Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ideas for Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) Even If You Are Poor

From the Innovative Educator

When the topic of bring your own device comes up, one of the first complaints we often hear, is "What about the have nots." Yes, there are have nots.  However, students should not only be given the freedom to do what those who have the least can do. Students are not prisoners and they are not widgets. They are people with minds, choices, and parents or guardians who can make decisions and should be empowered to use the learning devices they choose. 

While I believe schools should be wired places where community members can access the internet, I do not believe all students need the same tool nor do I believe all students need the government to provide them with the learning tools they deem best.  When we shift our thinking fromdemanding the government provides one-size-fits-some solutions and move it to let's empower families to take ownership of securing tools for their learning, change can happen.  

Here are some ways even low socio economic status (ses) students can acquire their own technology.

  1. Business Refresh - Reach out to companies to see when they refresh equipment. Ask if they would consider giving old devices to students.
  2. Craigslist - Students can use tools like Craigslist to announce that they are in need of a device that someone might be throwing away. Also, look at who is getting rid of devices. Some will give away technology if it is helping a student.
  3. Facebook for Tech - A teenager I know needed a computer. She put her request on Facebook for anyone who might have an old computer. She had several responses. Students, parents, and teachers can use social media to share requests.
  4. Mentors as resources - Establish a mentoring program. When I did this students developed relationships with their mentors, many of whom advocated on their behalf which included helping them secure resources for learning.
  5. Entrepreneurs raise money for tech - The cost of tech has gone down tremendously. It doesn't take a lot for the entrepreneurial student to raise enough money for his or her own tech.  
  6. Tweet for Tech - When I noticed a young girl with autism in a rural neighborhood could benefit from an iPad I tweeted out a request for anyone updating their iPad 1 with an iPad 2 to donate a device. The young girl had a new iPad that week.  
  7. Recycle School Tech - I've seen schools dump tons of tech because they couldn't sort through the bureaucratic red tape required to give devices to kids.  Ummm...gimme a break! Let's reduce the red tape and help schools figure it out.
  8. Payment / Layaway plans - There are schools that have figured out layaway, leasing, or school discount programs. Schools should be doing their best to provide these options for families for hardware as well as internet access in the home.
  9. Community Tech Day - Invite the community to come to your school and donate technology for children in need. 
  10. Hold a fundraiser - There are fundraisers for all sorts of things.  Let kids work to raise funds for technology.  Be creative. Hold a race, a car wash, a tournament.  
Yes, there are naysayers who can shoot down every single way I've shared to empower students to secure devices, but when we stop thinking about why we can't and start thinking about how we can, the digital divide narrows before our eyes.

To find out how to break the ban where you teach and much more order Teaching Generation Text

Friday, May 11, 2012

Why BYOD, Not Banning Cell Phones, Is the Answer

Check out Lisa's new article in T.H.E. Journal about why banning is not the answer when it comes to cell phones and other student-owned devices in school.  Here's a sneak peak at the seven strategies schools should have in place to ensure connected students will tune in when learning with cell phones and other devices they own and love. 

  1. Ensure the right building blocks are in place
  2. Update outdated classroom management techniques
  3. Give students time to socialize
  4. Connect with students in their world
  5. Use texting to connect more deeply with students
  6. Engage students
  7. Empower students with strategies to stay focused
To find out more about each reason and read the whole article visit this link.  

For more ideas about thinking outside the ban and harnessing the power of cell phones for learning check out Teaching Generation Text: Using Cell Phones to Enhance Learning.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Encourage Reading and Writing with Cell Phone Novels

 Encourage Reading and Writing with Cell Phone Novels

A new genre of literature, perfect for Generation Text is the cell phone novel, which offers short chapters full of cliffhangers, dialog, and dramatic plot twists to get students engaged in their reading. Writing cell phone novels challenges students to show narration, poetry and even visual art by choosing line breaks, punctuation, whitespace, and rhythm. Textnovel ( is a free, fun way for students to read, write for a real audience, gain feedback and revise serial fiction.  Lost books and eaten homework are a thing of the past.

Educators choosing to use Textnovel will need to become familiar with the site and the settings where the stories are given movie type ratings.
  • Ideas for the Classroom
    • Even if cell phones are banned, choose a G rated cell phone novel and have students read it and make comments as homework.
    • Collectively write a cell phone novel as a class project, or within cooperative learning groups. The social nature of the site will bring students together to create, revise, and develop their stories.
    • Use the Textnovel site for journal writing that will never get lost or destroyed. They simply send their entries to their journal where the teacher can comment. Updates are sent via text or email.
  • Text Talk
    Krystal Swarovsk - High School
    Like most students, high schooler Krystal Swarovski was never given an opportunity to write for a real audience in school but with Krystal has a large fan base and was awarded the Text Novel Editor’s Choice award for her story Slices of Pie.  Here is an excerpt from Krystal’s bio from the site which provides a glimpse into what contributing to the site has meant for her.

    So, most people on this site put their writing career to date in their about me section, but since i'm in high school, my writing career to date has been a short story (B-), a collection of poems(A+), and many many many informational essays and literary criticisms, grades ranging from C+ to A+. More on the A side though... :) Anyway, point is, the only writing I have ever really done has been for school, with varying degrees of success. However, last year, a good friend of mine (whose pen name here is Anabelle) was telling me all about her story and this fabulous website during study hall, and she convinced me to get an account on textnovel, and that's where I started writing. I have to say I am surprised by the amount of votes my stories have received. I didn't think I would get over 20! ;) So thanks to everyone that's read what I've written. :D