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Contributors: Cindy Hughes, Kellie Grant, Rachel James, Jennifer Duarte


Changing the way we learn, one step at a time

I was recently part of an online discussion where a mother of a student in Grade Five wanted to know if other parents had sent personal devices to school with their children.  In the front page of the child’s agenda was the school board’s brand new “Bring Your Own Device Policy”.  It looks good, and it addresses many important points and concerns. You can find the policy here: Peel Board of Education BYOD Policy

Certainly, students need to learn how to use technology.  Many of them already are at home and it only makes sense to tap into the vast network of knowledge and programs available out there.  Expecting students to learn like they did fifty, twenty or even five years ago is unrealistic.  Gone are the days when students needed to trek down to their local public library to find information in dusty old text books.  Now a visit to the library means access to the most up to date information available. Journal articles that used to take weeks to find their way to a student are now available instantly. And students want to be connected online.  You only need to watch a group of teenagers walking down the street, engaged in conversation both with one another and with whomever or whatever is on their device.

But the information is vast and is often potentially misleading.  I recall looking for information on the Holocaust to show to a class and I was nearly a third of the way through the video before I realized it was subtly trying to persuade me that the Holocaust never occurred.  Without my own knowledge and experience on the subject there is no way I would have ever suspected the site was anti-Semitic, and if I had been a student I would easily have accepted the information as the truth.

Stories about bullying and on-line harassment are becoming increasingly common, and tragic stories about suicides stemming from these incidents leave parents and educators concerned and confused.  How do we protect our children if there is never a break from their devices, even at school?

For these reasons, it is vital that educators become more tech savvy and teach their students how to use technology responsibly and ethically. That is where this project comes in. We want to demonstrate that students are able to use their devices to improve student learning in a collaborate setting.  We want to become more comfortable with technology ourselves.  And finally, we want to share our experiences with our colleagues, so that they too may become comfortable and provide the best opportunities for their students to become discerning learners in a 21st century environment. 

As the weeks go by, we will share our experiences here.  Next time, I will write about the ground rules – building an environment of trust with my students so they are clear about the expectations surrounding their devices. 

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