Friday, January 27, 2012

Cross Post: BYOT Update

Cross post courtesy of our student newspaper. Thank you Brebeuf Arrow staff and writers!

BYOT: update - Brebeuf Arrow

BYOT: update

we heard you like tech, so we put tech in your classroom

Since its inception last fall, the BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) policy has helped usher Brebeuf along further into the digital age. Now, with a full semester having gone by with the program in place, it seemed time to check on the progress of BYOT to decide if it really has been fulfilling its purpose.
In courses like foreign language classes, where only writing out lines simply won’t cut it for learning the material, practical applications to allow for word recognition and speaking practice have been implemented to great effect. Some teachers have even chosen to directly integrate the policy into lesson plans, taking advantage of the technological surplus to bolster the educational experience of everyone in the class.
“There are multiple benefits for language learning. The Internet’s second language is Spanish. They can find definitions and multiple sites where the word is used in context, and for research purposes, students are able to have interviews on their own smartphones,” said Spanish teacher Senora Beck.
Clearly, the policy has far-reaching potential in the classroom, and even beyond, as the use of technology has evidently evolved some classwork to allow for additional learning opportunities.
“If they have iPods, iPads, or other devices capable of recording, we record conversations between the students and they are able to email that to me immediately. It allows me to revise and improvise lesson plans at my discretion for purposes of learning beyond the classroom,” added Beck.
Students just as well as teachers have been finding the newly tech-accommodating classrooms to their utmost satisfaction. From typing up notes on laptops to making assignment reminders in smartphones, the possibilities now at the fingertips of participating students are impressive. Additionally, some prefer to rely on their own computer rather than take the chance of technical issues arising on school PC’s. This aspect is of particular importance at that moment every Brebeuf student has experienced, when the big essay needs printing and the school’s tech is taking a nap.
“I think it allows me to take efficient notes in class and multitask. I’ve liked being able to work when I need to but also have the perks of a personal computer and Internet access. I rely on my computer a lot more than the school’s technology, and it allows a more natural feel while at school,” said senior Ed Krulewitch.
With the encouragement of some teachers to use technology at the desks, naturally has come the more widespread use of laptops and smartphones around the school other than the classroom. To many, Brebeuf’s more user-friendly approach this year for those preferring personal tech has offered a medley of newfound freedoms.
“The BYOT policy means access to info twice as fast. I can go anywhere in the building and work more independently, with the exception of printers. Basically, it lets everyone work on their own,” said senior Juan-Jose Jaramillo.
“I think it’s moving in the right direction. The more Brebeuf embraces it, the more creative things can be done to teach,” quipped senior Annie Starkey.
The future is looking bright for the program, and while the school can’t officially comment yet on what’s on the horizon in the coming years, there’s hope that it will become more widespread in all corners of the school.
“The biggest restriction right now with BYOT is the teachers who’ve decided not to let students use technology in the classroom. I think the next step is creating a school-wide policy that would let students use the technology in class but have a strict set of consequences for misuse. Teacher’s couldn’t deny students the ability to use their tech, but there wouldn’t be a real problem with abuse,” said senior and resident computer genius Kevin Lehtiniitty.
Overall students and participating faculty alike seem to have received the BYOT program warmly and have been putting it to good use through enhanced lesson plans and more efficient note-taking. The program’s success after only a single semester would seem to be a good indicator of the policy’s future in the coming years. The only real risk now is the temptation to use internet access to look up adorable lolcats during class.

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