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  Reply # 945669 4-Dec-2013 20:49
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Well, quite the conversation I have stumbled into here and obviously some very strong opinions. Before I continue please understand that I have no interest in a lengthy battle of repeated arguments, nor am I here to try and change any minds I have just chosen to put across my own experiences. My husband, Gehenna, has been telling me about this thread for awhile and I did come and read a few posts awhile ago but I hadn't the time to respond. Now, there are so many points that have been made that I would love to address one-on-one that it would take me weeks. Plus, with only 6.5 days to go until the end of term I am broken and haven't the energy for a thesis, so I shall share my ideas in condensed points to keep it manageable. 

- I am a teacher.
- I have been teaching for just over 5 years.
- I didn't go straight to teaching, rather worked in the financial sector before turning to teaching as I felt it irresponsible to try and impart knowledge and experiences to children having little of my own.
- I have a personal interest in technology, its development, uses, implications for learning, business, life and communication.
- I teach Year 4 students (they are 8-9 years old).
- Each of our classrooms has 4 HP desktop computers, 1 iMac (running Mountain Lion), a SmartBoard (and projector obviously). 
- Last year we purchased 20 iPad 2's that are shared among the primary school classes (Years 1-6).
- I attended the ULearn conference with a friend to learn more, better my understanding of eLearning, BYOD, technology in schools and other related concepts.
- I spend many hours at night reading about, or exploring new advances in technology (apps, websites, articles, ideas, resources) because I believe it to be important, useful, part of my job and beneficial for my students. I don't mind doing this because it is an interest of mine.
- I have provided support to my colleagues about using iPads effectively and ensured we all have basic trouble shooting skills. We have an IT Team to help if necessary. Mostly the students can fix problems that occur themselves.
- Our Year 2 class trialled BYOD this year as it was a small class. It was a very successful and interesting trial that taught us a lot and let us see where we need to go next; what works and what doesn't; what we like and what we don't.
- Most of our parents responded positively to the idea of the trial and have found it has helped them be more involved with what is happening in the classroom. It is widely acknowledged by education experts that the home-school partnership is crucial to success. This is especially true of students from cultural backgrounds where community is central to their life/upbringing or beliefs.
- Yes I know there are some average, and even terrible teachers out there. I believe if you look in any workplace, or industry you will find this occurs there also. I had a terrible taxi driver the other night...

Speaking only for myself, what I have witnessed in mine and other classrooms, from discussions with teachers around the world and from the extensive reading I have done:
- BYOD is not about students doing 'sit down shut up' work on their own
- Devices are intended to enhance the existing learning, not replace it
- Apps or websites can be used to engage a student with new, or difficult learning. Breaking the ice so to speak, removing and misconceptions or fear they may have around the learning/topic
- For many students these devices aren't new or exciting. They are common place in their home or lives and so it often happens that school is the only place they don't have access to this technology - they don't always understand this
- I've never seen a teacher in a Primary class put kids on an iPad and not know what they are doing - also if your classroom is established on mutual (do you see that...mutual) respect then this will be far less of a problem. In my classroom we had extensive discussions about cyber safety, appropriate use etc and the students developed their own rules, guidelines and consequences for the use of all technology. They want to use it so they follow the rules and keep each other in check for the most part.
- I never allow students to use an app that I haven't already used and know to be useful.
- My students have used apps and then suggested to me other ways we could use them in our learning that I hadn't previously considered, that were excellent.
- Most teachers will do anything to help their children achieve but more importantly to make them WANT to learn.

- Reading, writing and maths are still the central focus of education in Primary Schools. However, it is becoming less common to teach these entirely independently with most schools adopting cross-curricular approaches to learning. This is very effective in offering practical, real life experiences while still engaging these core skills. No, you don't need technology to do this but it certainly makes it a lot easier, more fun, more engaging, more manageable.
- Technology has allowed my class to communicate promptly with students around the world. This has made them look critically at themselves, their lives, their blessings and the needs of others. Don't tell me we could have done this by writing letters - boys don't like writing at the best of times. They really don't want to wait 6 weeks for a response. Email? We're in!
- If I didn't think using devices or technology was beneficial to students or me, I wouldn't do it. I don't have time to waste. I've already worked 7am-9pm every day this week. I don't waste time I don't have to.
- Several kids in our school who demonstrated a real interest have had opportunities to work with older students designing simple flash animations and learning basic coding. One student, slightly older than mine, has designed their own game app which is for sale on the app store.
- My students and I learnt together how to use iBooks author and created our own iBook as culmination of our topic studies. This required them to use their technology skills, many values and virtues, extended literacy, time-management, multi-platform and make critical decisions at a higher level - such as what content do we use, what videos and images from the internet are we 'allowed' to use, what is copyright etc. They didn't just finish it, they are proud of it.
- Often when we use devices in the classroom to create something the students are keen to go home and explore further. They want to use this new knowledge and apply it in other ways. In the realm of extended learning this is significant. 
- Parents have thoroughly enjoyed engaging with the technology with their students.

- Technology isn't going anywhere. Most of the students I teach now will end up in jobs that don't currently exist. All I can do is prepare them to be sensible digital citizens who engage with, and apply knowledge effectively for a given purpose. This will help them be prepared.
- Kids aren't scared of technology. Adults are scared of technology. Give a kid an app and ask them to find 5 ways of using it for learning and they will, and most of them will be good too.
- As well as devices we also use a Learning Management System called Ultranet. This effectively works as our ePortfolios. My students use their iPads to take photos of work they think shows progress, videos that represent success and they choose what they upload to this ePortfolio. They then reflect critically on what they have done and achieved. I can also comment and so can their peers and parents. They get feedback from many people that informs their success and next learning steps. Before Ultranet we did the same thing on PowerPoint and before that on paper. 90% of the paper ones got lost. The PowerPoint ones never resulted in conversations about the learning at home. I am sure some of you, who are parents, take a more active role - good for you. Many don't. Kids need feedback. Kids want to know what they did well. Kids need to know how they need to improve. Kids want you to care.

- I am not a good teacher because I use iPads or other devices. I am a good teacher because I am open-minded to trying things that could enhance the learning and achievement of my students. I am smart enough to retain the ones that work and let go any that don't.
- You can't make any blanket generalisations about 'learning' because each student learns in their own way. Some kids would learn in a darkened bunker because they want to. Others need help and assistance. 

If your child was struggling and lacking confidence in an area of school and a device could make a significant difference to that would you really deny them that?

Those who can teach, teach. Those who don't make generalistic statements about something they don't really understand. Being a student at school doesn't qualify you to know what happens in a classroom from day to day or what it is like to be a teacher just as I would never presume to know what it is really like to be a a hairdresser on their feet all day despite the fact that I am in a salon regularly.

Do I think the BYOD idea needs refinement, though, careful planning and management? Yes. Do I think that for some students it won't be as effective as others? Yes. Am I confident that it has amazing potential to unlock skills, talents and confidence in a wide range of kids? Yes.

Right. I already know hardly anyone will both reading this and that the person who has been prolifically posting (fortunately I have forgotten your username) will have some blithe reply about how my comments don't apply to every school, child or situation. True. But, I am one teacher with a class of students for whom I can only spread myself so far. I will take whatever teaching assistance I can to make me do my job more effectively. 


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  Reply # 945725 4-Dec-2013 22:25
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Those wishing to reply beware...

I love my wife and I have the ability to ban users.

Just kidding....

...or....

 
 
 
 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 945748 4-Dec-2013 22:48
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Having recently attended a Microsoft sponsored event on how to implement a BYOD policy and being a secondary teacher with a keen interest in technology and its application in education I wish to add to this thread, however due to time constraints I will wait till the term has ended before fully engaging.

 

But I would like to quickly add a few comments.

 

A BYOD policy that is

 

  • Open to all devices
  • Restricted to ipads/tabs/chromebooks/surface etc
  • Not supported by capital investment
  • Not supported by extensive staff PD
  • Has (no/little) (school/parent) buy in
  • Lacking a programme demonstrating the use of said device
  • Does not have a SLA with at least a 48 hour turn around with stand in devices in place
  • Has not got clearly articulated outcomes  
Is doomed to failure

 

If I was a parent that had a child attending a school introducing a BYOD policy I would be making an appointment with a DP to raise each of the issues above before I would consent to purchase a device for my child for use at the school.

 

That being said if the school does have a clear plan in place I would wholly support the implementation of a BYOD policy

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 945853 5-Dec-2013 08:35
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LittleGold: Well, quite the conversation I have stumbled into....


I'm all for my kids to get into IT at school and recently my daughters future primary school have implemented a BYOD for their older kids.  It was interesting to hear from the school that kids learn literacy skills faster using a device with a keyboard, and that was their main reason for going for a chromebook over a tablet (I have no issues with that).

My biggest issues are around kids lugging around $500 devices and how many have been stolen or broken. What has been your experience of that? I lost all sorts of stuff when I was a kid, not to mention the occasional random lunch explosions in my school bag.

Are 8 year olds really responsible enough to look after such expensive things?

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 945855 5-Dec-2013 08:41
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gished:
Dav4122:

In terms of protecting the devices, the students who have a case for their iPad generally have no issues and those that don't crack the screen (I would say it is rare to see an uncracked and unprotected iPad)



Can you say how many devices have been written off or been stolen?


I can only give an anecdotal number as part of BYOD is that the onus goes on students and their families to repair or replace - so my school at least doesn't keep track of those numbers.
I would say maybe 1:50 in the senior classes (year 11-13 or form 5-7) higher in the juniors for damage but only maybe 2or3:50

I've used 50 as that is roughly the size of 2 of my classes, and in some classes there hasn't been any issues


As far as stolen devices, across the school (1500 - 2000 pupils) I can't remember more than 5 this year that had students stood down over. More often you will have students taking someone else's device and hiding it or moving it for a (bad) joke. But again anecdotal

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  Reply # 945864 5-Dec-2013 08:51
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gished:
Are 8 year olds really responsible enough to look after such expensive things?


For the year 7 and 8 home room classes there is a push to also install lockable cabinets that the students put their devices in when not being used.

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  Reply # 945902 5-Dec-2013 09:26
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Just received, and may be pertinent:


Press Release – Tech sector concerned at slip in education standards

The fastest growing industry sector in New Zealand has reacted strongly to an international report that shows New Zealand has slipped backwards in education standards when compared to other OECD countries.

The latest OECD PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey revealed that New Zealand’s performance has gone backwards dramatically in maths, science and reading.  New Zealand has gone from 7th to 18th in science and from 12th to 23rd in maths.

New Zealand Technology Industry Association Chief Executive Candace Kinser says we stand to lose our competitiveness against significant trading partners like China, South Korea and other Asian countries.

She says those trading partners are competitors in other markets where we are looking to sell our software and technology and they are streets ahead in these vital subjects.

Countries like Singapore, Poland and Germany rank above New Zealand and have positively increased their position since the last survey.  Australia, Ireland and Denmark, despite also sliding backwards, still outrank New Zealand.

Ms Kinser is calling on the government to act quickly to turnaround the situation and she suggests a good place to start is by learning from the countries that are getting it right with the education of their young. She says maths and science are critical subjects for New Zealand to be improving upon, not going backwards.

There’s also concern among leading businesses in the tech sector. Fronde is a major employer of IT professionals and its CEO Ian Clarke says math and science are both critical subjects for New Zealand students who want a career in the technology industry. He says he would like to see our young people excelling in these areas at school not going backwards.

Technology and innovation is the fastest growing industry in New Zealand, set to be the highest income earner for the country by 2020 and overtaking both dairy and tourism.




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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 945968 5-Dec-2013 11:08
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Perhaps a computer science curriculum to meet the growing demand in IT engineers, with a strong focus on coding/programming might help?

Referring to the previously suggested notion that we treat computer programming as a fourth science.

However, implementing such a curriculum would seem a tough ask. Mainly due to the lack of qualified/competent CS-capable personnel who want to be teachers. Arguably, we could cater to a NCEA Level 1 standard with existing resources for a majority of colleges, but, beyond that there'd need to be some serious incentives to entice enough programmers to teaching to make it work.

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  Reply # 946035 5-Dec-2013 13:00
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zaptor: Perhaps a computer science curriculum to meet the growing demand in IT engineers, with a strong focus on coding/programming might help?

Referring to the previously suggested notion that we treat computer programming as a fourth science.

However, implementing such a curriculum would seem a tough ask. Mainly due to the lack of qualified/competent CS-capable personnel who want to be teachers. Arguably, we could cater to a NCEA Level 1 standard with existing resources for a majority of colleges, but, beyond that there'd need to be some serious incentives to entice enough programmers to teaching to make it work.


Currently coding and programming is under the technology umbrella 
here's a link to the level 3 / year 13 standards - big changes since the old learn to type and use Microsoft unit standards I remember as a student

Quite a lot of professional development going on to help teachers who haven't come from industry up skill if they need/want it.
All the universities with computer science departments are quite keen to help, ICT Connect is run by the IITP and is good, and most of us teachers who teach digital technology are members of the NZACDITT where we can share resources and knowledge to help each other

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 946066 5-Dec-2013 14:02
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Dav4122:
zaptor: Perhaps a computer science curriculum to meet the growing demand in IT engineers, with a strong focus on coding/programming might help?

Referring to the previously suggested notion that we treat computer programming as a fourth science.

However, implementing such a curriculum would seem a tough ask. Mainly due to the lack of qualified/competent CS-capable personnel who want to be teachers. Arguably, we could cater to a NCEA Level 1 standard with existing resources for a majority of colleges, but, beyond that there'd need to be some serious incentives to entice enough programmers to teaching to make it work.


Currently coding and programming is under the technology umbrella 
here's a link to the level 3 / year 13 standards - big changes since the old learn to type and use Microsoft unit standards I remember as a student

Quite a lot of professional development going on to help teachers who haven't come from industry up skill if they need/want it.
All the universities with computer science departments are quite keen to help, ICT Connect is run by the IITP and is good, and most of us teachers who teach digital technology are members of the NZACDITT where we can share resources and knowledge to help each other


Fascinating.

AS91639 looks the most interesting. You actually teach that level in your school? If so, that's not too shabby for college level. I take it the lean is towards embedded systems (programming microcontrollers?).
What kind of hardware is being used, and do you know what communications protocols the students are attempting to implement?

A few of those standards look respectable. Level 1 looked okay as well.

Do you teach your students the entire curriculum or just selected portions of it?

On the programming side what concepts/fundamentals do you start at with your students? (i.e. do they require any understanding of the underlying hardware/computer organisation, electrical theory, computing abstractions - eg. primer on how computers work)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 946096 5-Dec-2013 15:19
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Dav4122: 

All the universities with computer science departments are quite keen to help .... most of us teachers who teach digital technology are members of the NZACDITT ...


That's some reasonably heavy stuff. It's basically tertiary standard (Level 3 at least).

Some of the graphics resources look like post-grad level.

You guys really teaching 3D graphics programming? Dang. Wish I was 15 again....

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  Reply # 946152 5-Dec-2013 17:36
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gished:
LittleGold: Well, quite the conversation I have stumbled into....


I'm all for my kids to get into IT at school and recently my daughters future primary school have implemented a BYOD for their older kids.  It was interesting to hear from the school that kids learn literacy skills faster using a device with a keyboard, and that was their main reason for going for a chromebook over a tablet (I have no issues with that).

My biggest issues are around kids lugging around $500 devices and how many have been stolen or broken. What has been your experience of that? I lost all sorts of stuff when I was a kid, not to mention the occasional random lunch explosions in my school bag.

Are 8 year olds really responsible enough to look after such expensive things?



Well all 8 year olds are different of course, but a lot of that depends on the culture you establish within your classroom. We talk a lot about responsibility and consequence, we have a visible set of rules for being responsible with technology which includes cyber safety and how to walk with/carry and use a device sensibly. Anyone who isn't simply loses the right to use their device in that session. You do have to give kids something to raise themselves to, if we assume they won't be responsible and that is our expectation then that is exactly what they will give us. I choose to expect my students to use technology sensible, responsibly and safely. Just as I choose to expect they will work their hardest and achieve their goals. My children are very aware of the cost of these devices. I teach financial literacy and it all ties in nicely. 

We have a lockable cupboard where devices go when they aren't being used (lunchtime etc) and I have given advice to parents about cases that we have found really good at protecting devices. Also we looked at how to put the devices in their school bag so to avoid lunchbox incidents. However, accidents do happen. I've dropped my own iPhone and cracked the back and I am not 8 but I am capable of genuine mistakes.

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  Reply # 946189 5-Dec-2013 19:38
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  Reply # 946257 5-Dec-2013 20:54
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Suggestions on getting our students back up the OECD Ladder.

 

One of the huge mistakes we made was getting rid of our Science and Maths Advisors.

 

Maths/Science (Primary School)

 

For teachers to teach in these areas they must have the knowledge of the topics being taught. Unfortunately many of our present teachers do not have the maths knowledge to teach and as a result prefer to teach other subject areas which to some of us have less value. Once Maths was always taught in early part of the day. Today in some cases that I have observed, I see maths being taught in the afternoon. While some may see this as being insignificant, research clearly shows the students are more alert during the morning.

 

Teachers need to be shown how to teach place value using Centimo place value blocks which give the students a clear understanding of place value which then makes understanding number processes clearer.

 

The learning of basic facts (of by heart) is a necessity not a choice. Watch a students self esteem improve once they know all their Tables and Basic Facts of by heart. This counting on fingers which has been accepted by many as a strategy is a heap of nonsense. Train the brain to remember (if students can learn the lyrics of songs by heart they can learn all their Basic Facts). We have spent too much time recently encouraging students to find their own strategies to solve problems. Some of our bright students can be successful at this but most need to be given a set method to work with.

 

Students should being working with materials in all areas of Maths. They need to be measuring and actually timing things with the proper devices not sitting inside with a book. They need to be using materials that simulate the real thing, Tape measures, Stopwatches etc There are some wonderful activity books available as well as apps for tablets.

 

Get children doing things I have mentioned and you will find they will love maths and will continue with the subject throughout their schooling.

 

Think about it Maths should be right up their besides reading. Everything we do in life can be connected to Maths.

 

Parents you have a responsibility for your child, play cards games that use maths even simple games such as snap for addition and multiplication (take the picture cards out).

 

Enough on maths.

 

Reading

 

Do some research on The Pen Reading Programme which is working very successfully In the Waikato area. Here teachers are taught how to use various approaches to reading which they implement back in their classes.

 

Once again give the teachers the knowledge and watch the improvement. This applies across the curriculum.

 

A Principal’s main task must be the Professional Development of his or her Staff.

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 946372 6-Dec-2013 08:26
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How much do you factor in who is measured in the statistics? Having been in Asian countries you know that they do profiling of students much more than we do so the less gifted ones are moved on to others things much more quickly whereas in NZ we leave them in even if they don't really want to be there.

Looking at the countries that are dropping you notice that a lot of them have quite generous welfare systems. Is there any correlation between knowing you always have the government to fall back on and performance at school. And by this I mean that the students see their parents getting money for this and that and think why study so hard.

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