About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Friday, October 14, 2011

BYOD - Creativity and Inspiration in the 21st Century?

This morning I read BYOD - Worst idea of the 21st century? by Gary Stager.

I was perplexed by some of the arguments against BYOD. Arguing that BYOD enshrines inequity and stifles creativity raised some questions for me.

The only way to guarantee equitable educational experiences is for each student to have access to the same materials and learning opportunities. BYOD leaves this to chance with more affluent students continuing to have an unfair advantage over their classmates. This is particularly problematic in a society with growing economic disparity.

This is the same mentality used to justify standardized test conditions. It assumes that if all the learners are sitting behind the same device that this somehow magically equalizes them. It doesn't. I don't think that there are any two students in the world who have access to the same materials and learning opportunities. If you take cultural capital into account there is more to equity than standardizing tools.

As an aside, I would go as far as to argue that the child using the 'inferior' device could be getting a different (and possibly better) education. There is nothing like having to deal with problems, trouble shooting, and finding a workaround, to gain some very valuable skills.

To use the car analogy who is going to be the better mechanic? The kid who drives a beaten up Toyota that s/he is constantly having to fix, or the kid driving the serviced Porsche?

BYOD is bad policy that constrains student creativity...

This seriously undermines our learners abilities to be creative. One example that springs to mind is Joel Dodd's students who were supposed to download their maths lessons to their cell phones prior to coming to his class. He noticed that those students who were unable to download the lesson instead captured the lesson on the computer using their video function. It still worked.

Repeat after me! Cell phones are not computers! They may both contain microprocessors and batteries, but as of today, their functionality is quite different.

Never underestimate what our learners can do with their phones.

How can we say that different students bringing in different devices is less creative than them all sitting in front of a standard machine? With the increase of web-based learning BYOD gives students the opportunities to run their choice of operating system, their choice of hardware and their choice of software. They can do this creatively. I have blogged previously about one of my students recreating hyperstudio with a blend of MS paint and iMovie. She aspired to this because she saw the results from another school that had the software.

She would have been robbed of that creativity had she been in a place of 'equity' where all students had the standardized school device. She would have been robbed of the idea had she not been exposed to someone else with 'better' equipment.

BYOD allows students (and their families) to make their own choices. What if your child's state sanctioned computer ran a MS operating system but you were more aligned with MacOS or Linux? Why should a student have to buy-in to the school's software choices?

I like the idea of students and their families being able to make choices about what they value. For one child you may wish to invest in a high-end IT device, cheap sports shoes and a recorder. For another you may want to buy them a full running kit, a low end IT device and a piano. This is happening in our homes anyway, so why deter them from bringing their devices to school? We don't ban our kids from wearing expensive shoes on sports days because it's 'unfair'. Let's give our family choices to personalize their children's learning tools to suit their needs.

There will always be that amazing kid who wins the race in bare-feet anyway...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

A slice of Otarian Paradise

On Saturday the BMPS community came together to share months of preparation for the school's 50th jubilee.

Despite the windy coldness the kids put on an amazing show. My own little Palagi children felt the generosity of the Otara community as they were rewarded with money (a PI custom) for their dancing.

Where does this spirit, talent and authentic learning get recognized in our NZ education system?

National Standards aim to lift achievement in literacy and numeracy (reading, writing, and mathematics) by being clear about what students should achieve and by when. This will help students; their teachers and parents, families and whānau better understand what they are aiming for and what they need to do next. Source: MOE website

I'm often met with surprise when I reveal that my children are schooled in a Decile 1 environment. My children have been blessed. Thanks to our rich education from Otara we, as a whanau, have a better understanding what we are aiming for and what we need to do next, and it certainly was not gained from a numeracy or literacy exemplar.

The above 15 minute video is a perfect example of why ePortfolios can be such powerful tools in our NZ schools. Video is a powerful reflection tool that enables us to see the whole child. This form of assessment needs to (at the very least) accompany our standardised tests and arbitrary writing samples.