Tech Edge - August 2012 - (Page 13)

>> W BYOTto the Library hen debates about bring your own technology (BYOT) policies arise, my first thought is usually, “Why wouldn’t we allow students to bring their own devices?” As a librarian, I am committed to protecting student access to information – whether in print or online. And I perceive BYOT as just another means of granting student access to the world of information that is the Internet. By allowing student devices on campus, we are telling our students they have the right to utilize technology to learn, they deserve that right, and we aren’t creating a “walled garden” that denies the reality of how students learn. From a librarian’s standpoint, even books are a technology. And we’ve been allowing students to “bring their own” for as long as there have been schools. Allowing students to bring and use the tools that help them learn seems like a natural idea. At my campus, we allow student devices on our guest wireless connection, and I am able to see the ways in which students utilize their mobile devices. Even though our school is now a 1:1 iPad campus, we still have an increasing number of students bringing in their own iPhones, laptops, Androids, and other devices into the library. What do I observe the students doing with their devices? I see students using devices naturally, the way any of us would, as a tool for their own purposeful learning. Often the student devices are used in conjunction with other school-provided devices in the library space. One of the concerns with BYOT policies is that of digital inequity. This concern is valid, especially if assignments have specific technology requirements or there is limited or no access to a centrally-located Students’ Learning Options Continue to Expand technology center such as a library or computer lab. How this issue is dealt with depends very much upon your school community – how homogeneous it is socioeconomically, if there is already a culture of sharing and collaboration, what the school is able to provide in terms of centralized equipment for equitable use, and the general learning climate of the school. All of these issues can be a source of rich and serious discussion in any school district looking to adopt a BYOT policy. We can look at BYOT as an opportunity for libraries to fill in the gaps, becoming hubs for learning. Libraries can offer an array of computing devices for check out or for in-library use for students who aren’t “bringing their own” device. As a librarian, I find the BYOT policy overwhelmingly positive, though not without challenges. Any time students have increased access to resources, they can better gather information and may be motivated to explore more avenues and collect more data. It is our obligation as librarians and educators to be familiar both with technology and how mobile devices can be used in instruction. For example, many of our databases have apps that can be downloaded to smartphones. Think of how powerful it is for students to have database or e-book apps loaded on their own phones or laptops. When students are able to personalize the work they are doing, it becomes By Carolyn Foote more significant to them. And sometimes the work they produce is better because they are more familiar with the software on their own device and are able to research and create in more significant ways. We can learn better from students when they are unconstrained by the technology the school provides. I do not think that BYOT can be a school’s only solution. We must provide locations and equipment for access to those students who need it. And as I’ve observed in our library, even students with their own device will often use school-provided devices simultaneously because this multitasking best suits their learning style. As devices get smaller, more inexpensive, more portable, and more commonplace, BYOT is more than just a way to save money on technology costs. It is a way to empower our students. It is a way to show that we trust them as managers of their own learning. It is a way of honoring how they learn. One of the students from our school’s own iPad pilot program commented that for the first time, he felt like the school trusted him. ● Carolyn Foote is a “techno” librarian at Westlake High School in Austin, a blogger, and conference presenter who believes in students’ rights to access. Issue Three 2012 >> techedge 13

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Tech Edge - August 2012

AT A GLANCE: Classroom Tips to Help Support a BYOT Initiative
TECA Professional Development
Resources for a BYOT
LEADING WITH TECHNOLOGY: It's Not All About the Robot
BYOT: From Potential Distraction to Real Integration
CREATING CLOUDS: From Sharing to Storing, Clouds, Help Clear the Way for BYOT
BYOT TO THE LIBRARY: Student's Learning Options Continue to Expand
TECH SMART: Tips to Promote Responsible and Ethical Digital Citzens
MOBILE LEARNING: Paving the Way for BYOT and Responsible Uses Policies
IN THE CLASSROOM: Think, Are You UP for This Robotics Challenge?
ADVOCACY UPDATE: Connecting in the Community

Tech Edge - August 2012