For many years, board owned computers have been used in schools and usually they are locked down. In other words, they come with a pre-selected set of applications for students and teachers to use in their daily work of learning and teaching… and that’s it. Special software is usually installed to prevent new software installations or reconfiguration of current applications.
One of the most exciting aspects of a full BYOD implementation in schools is that the student owns the device and, therefore, the student makes the decisions about what apps to install that help the most with learning. Giving the student this control makes sense and gives them ultimate flexibility over how they learn and create. In terms of self-regulated learning, I think this represents a big leap forward. Also, it seems reasonable to assume that a teacher could understand a great deal about how a student is learning by examining the array of apps they have installed on their device and listening to the reflections of the student regarding why they were installed.
It is an excited prospect knowing that these devices can dynamically adapt to the minute-to-minute needs of the learning environment and the learner. The affordance of being able to quickly find and install a new app makes these devices the ultimate customizable device. I think that the learning implications of the often used phrase “there is an app for that” are significant. I discussed Seymour Papert’s foreword to Mindstorms in my last post. In the last paragraph he wrote, “the computer is the proteus of machines” and I think this certainly still applies in this case.
I feel really strongly that we have to think carefully and strategically about how BYOD initiatives are implemented in the classroom. One of the learning strategies that should modelled is how to find, install and experiment with new apps that might facilitate learning in a specific situation. Or, how can you use your existing apps in a new learning situation? Or even–how can you design your own custom app to meet your learning needs?