Those of us who work in the field of educational technology are no strangers to acronyms1, and reading about BYOD, CYOD, 1:1, AUPs, LMS, CMS, GAFE, ITEC, STEM, STEAM, MOOC, QR, etc. can be overwhelming. In this post, I’m going to unpack the first three on this list, in the context of our upcoming technology initiatives within the Iowa City Schools.
As I wrote about here, the ICCSD is launching a secondary-level 1:1 initiative in 2017 (at the high school level) and 2018 (at the junior high level). The concept of a 1:1 initiative, broadly speaking, refers to an educational technology initiative where the ratio of students to devices is reduced to 1:1 (or lower). You can read about our deployment in greater detail in the article linked at the start of this paragraph, but in short, we will be assigning Chromebooks to each student in grades 7-12; ultimately, we will be supporting over 7,000 devices as part of this initiative. For the most part, students will be able to take those devices home for use outside of the classroom.
Bring Your Own Device is an approach to device needs in the classroom that has been implemented by a number of schools throughout the country. Essentially, this type of program can range from a formal program (where students are expected or required to bring devices) to, simply, a policy that students are allowed to bring personal devices into the classroom. While BYOD is often seen as an alternative to 1:1, I prefer to look at BYOD from the policy perspective as a complement to a 1:1 initiative.
When I travel to a conference or take a graduate course, I almost always have at least two devices available. Typically that includes a laptop and a smartphone, though it sometimes includes a tablet, a Chromebook, or even a second laptop. While I believe that it is imperative that we – as a district – provide our students with the baseline technology that they need in order to learn and collaborate in an innovative learning environment, I don’t want to limit a student’s natural workflow.
The idiosyncrasies of a student’s (or teacher’s) workflow cannot necessarily be served through a one-size-fits-all approach; as such, we welcome students, staff, and visitors to bring devices into our learning environments. While we strive for balance in terms of network security and internet content filtering, it is worth noting that all devices used on the district’s network are subject to network security protocols and the district’s internet filters. I do not envision any point in time where students would be required to bring a personal device; as we are addressing through the upcoming 1:1 initiative, when the need for technology rises to the point of being a basic curricular resource, that resource needs to be provided by the district.
In information technology, we often walk a fine line between providing for individual users’ needs – as mentioned above – and implementing standardization that allows us to effectively and efficiently support large technology deployments. This challenge is amplified within a school environment, where our ratio of deployed devices to field technicians is about 2,500:1.
Choose your own device (CYOD) programs are environments where users are able to choose the device that they would like to use. These programs can range from a wide open environment – you see this in some companies and universities, for instance – where a user can choose almost any computer model or form factor, based upon their specific requirements. More common are those available in most organizations are those where users can choose, essentially, from a menu of options, with some allowance for specialization where absolutely necessary.
We are exploring a form of the latter, as it relates to staff deployments in the Iowa City Schools. While there are financial, instructional, and other reasons that a CYOD program isn’t a practical deployment model for the upcoming student 1:1 program at the moment, there are several reasons that it may be a beneficial approach as it relates to equipping our staff with computers. The model that we’re looking at would give some form factor choice – traditional laptop vs. convertible tablet, for instance – to staff members who are due to receive new or replacement computers. These options would likely be restricted to two choices (for supportability reasons), but would comprise an important step towards meeting the individual needs of our staff.
1: Full disclosure, I wanted to structure this sentence differently, and that spurred me to look up whether there is a term for the study of acronyms. While it appears that there is not, it led me down a Google Search and Google Scholar path where I read a ton about jargon by discipline, along with research that focuses on acronyms related to word superiority effect and other concepts. It was interesting. Bonus points to anybody who can tell me what the term is for when one Google search (or Wikipedia article, or whatever) leads to another, which leads to another, and so on. I know there’s a term for this, but am drawing a blank. Incidentally, I couldn’t find it via Google.