George Lucas Educational Foundation
Subscribe to RSS

Challenging the Model of 1:1 with BYOD

Amanda Paquette

K-8 Technology Integration Specialist at the Hartford School District, VT
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Share

This year my school district in Vermont ventured into a sort-of BYOD/1:1 hybrid program. We realized the importance of allowing our students access to technology to enhance their learning, but the infrastructure wasn't in place to tackle a traditional BYOD. And we, like many if not all schools, were also constrained by budgets, so a traditional 1:1, where each student receives the same device, was also out of reach.

Instead, we chose to be creative with our technology and professional development. We used money from our technology budget and constructed a model to supply teachers with a mix of mobile devices, mostly laptops and iPads, and teachers applied to take part in a mixed device technology-integration pilot program.

In many aspects, the program is like BYOD because each classroom adapts to a set of different devices with varying capabilities, but in our case, students aren't actually bringing their own. And like a traditional 1:1 program, devices are spread to students throughout the room, but instead of each student receiving an assigned device, classes are left to select the appropriate tool for every assignment.

Why Mixed Devices?

Our aim for using mixed devices was to challenge teachers and students to really integrate technology into their instruction and learning. By having multiple devices available, users are challenged to determine which device best suits their learning purpose, and teachers are also challenged to rethink how they are using technology.

It is no longer optimal to have everyone do the same thing, at the same time, in the same way.

With the traditional lab or even the mobile lab model, students are usually brought in for a specific amount of time to complete a specific task. While teachers can try to differentiate and challenge their students, they are still constrained by the availability of the devices and by the capabilities of the device they are using.

By bringing the devices into the classroom, students can now access the one that will best serve their purpose. They can use the devices as e-readers during their reading groups and share their comments instantly through the Kindle app. They can check their understanding using the Socrative app, create a podcast to explain their learning, log on to Khan Academy for targeted math practice, or collaborate on a VoiceThread with others in our district and beyond.

Teachers are now free to explore innovative and creative ways to structure their time, activities, lessons and interactions with students.

In conversations with teachers who are taking part in the program this year, we've heard them express excitement at having more flexibility to organize their instruction. In addition, they have more time to work with students in small groups or individually, as they know other students in class are engaged in challenging learning opportunities with the mobile devices.

Ongoing Experimentation and Professional Development

In approaching our planning this year, we start each meeting with the curriculum goals and content, and then we brainstorm ways that we can enhance the content by using these new tools.

Our planning has come to show that we are really talking about using mixed devices in four ways:

  1. Continued, targeted practice of material: Using our devices to practice math facts, spelling, reading, etc.
  2. Information: Using devices to access materials in a variety of forms and from a variety of sources, by allowing students to explore content in age-appropriate ways with YouTube EDU, SweetSearch, Google Reader, Today's Doc App and BrainPop
  3. Collaboration: Brainstorming, creating and editing work together in programs like Google Docs, WallWisher, Bitly, Thinglink and Evernote
  4. Creation: Using the devices to capture images, audio and video to promote project-based learning with tools like Little Bird Tales, VoiceThread, Project Noah and History Pin

A few ways we have used and plan to use our mixed devices this year:

  • Voice recording for reading assessment
  • Voice and video recordings of learning experiences to share with wider community
  • Presentations
  • Contributing to the wider learning community through citizen science projects with Project Noah, and engaging in conversation with others outside the school environment through VoiceThread and blogging
  • Apps like Khan Academy, Skitch, Socrative, Nearpod, iMovie, Toontastic, ShowMe and My Math App
  • Kindle app for reading groups with shared notations and commenting across the text
  • Facetime and Skype to discuss texts and collaborative projects with other classes across our district

Structure of Support Through Co-Teaching and Planning

Successfully adding new technology to a classroom requires extensive planning and professional development. Our model provides professional development and support throughout the school year in a consistent manner.

When looking at other 1:1 initiatives, a main concern we heard was that a lot of support was front-loaded, but once the year began, the support was not there in the same targeted way. Rather than have our teachers sit through in-service presentations on how to effectively integrate their new devices, we decided to work together to find the best ways to use the devices with their students and their curriculum.

The first step was for teachers to meet with their technology integrationist to best determine which devices would suit their curriculum goals and their students. They committed to twice-a-month planning sessions with their technology integrationist, who would also co-teaching with them twice a month.

By engaging teachers and the technology integrationist in conversations about the curriculum, specific class dynamics and capabilities of the technology, we are now able to talk about what we would like to do, the tools best suited for that purpose, ways to tweak units or lessons, and what is not working. This collaborative, co-teaching model has allowed for us to find connections across content areas, classes and our district. We all recognize how much is gained when we are allowed to really talk about our curriculum and our students, and this model allows for that creative, collaborative time to work through complex and interesting questions and ideas about integrating technology effectively.

Was this useful?

Amanda Paquette

K-8 Technology Integration Specialist at the Hartford School District, VT

Comments (16) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Amanda Paquette's picture
Amanda Paquette
K-8 Technology Integration Specialist at the Hartford School District, VT

Thanks for your comment. Most of the resources that we have available are through the course I am teaching this year that is comprised of most of the teachers that are involved in this pilot program. I have posted the October course notes on my blog. You can find the course outline here: I will put up the Nov. and Dec. notes soon. As for other resources, feel free to reply, or tweet me for specific ideas and I'll see what we have and if there are things you would be interested.

It's not a traditional BYOD, as you stated because students are using our devices, it more mimics BYOD b/c of the variety of devices.

In some of our schools we also have iPod touches and Kindle Fires.

Some of our classes have enough devices for each student to have a device if that is what the teacher would like for that activity, but most of our teachers chose to do this in grade teams so the devices (approximately 17-20) are divided amongst two or three classes. They work collaboratively to plan how they want to use the devices, which devices and when.

Please feel free to contact me further if you have more questions.


Nichole Vielleux's picture

As a teacher who works with Amanda, I have to say that our mixed device model is teaching kids to make decisions on their own about which devices are better suited to certain tasks. The technology seems more naturally embedded, and having our technology integrationist be part of the planning process for units of study certainly adds to the intentionality of embedding technology naturally. At the beginning, I thought that teaching with mixed devices might be difficult, but instead, it has strengthened student collaboration and problem solving. Thanks for the wonderful opportunity, Amanda.

Charles Wilson's picture
Charles Wilson
Vita Learn Professional Development Coordinator

I believe you are ahead of the curve in transforming education. One size fits all is ingrained in education and we know it doesn't work for all students. It's one of the barriers in a student centered learning environment. We want to give students a voice in their learning, but we offer them only one way to accomplish it. Providing everyone with the same device fits in the same category as "No Child Left Behind". It provides a way to give students the basics of technology but misses the innovation and creativity students need to succeed in a digital learning environment.

Your BYOD idea is not new for the students as evidenced by the number of school policies that are created to stop students from using their own device. Students are comfortable with using multiple devices, but not in school. Education needs to embrace multiple devices.

Thank you for providing a wonderful example. As schools embrace digital learning, "Disruptive Innovation will change the way we teach and the way kids learn."*

See: edutopia: Disrupting Class: Student-Centric Education Is the Future

Adam's picture

BYOD in schools has become a popular (and controversial) topic in education. Besides the educational challenges, there are also challenges for school IT staff, who need to manage a wide variety of devices, connect them to the school's applications and deal with security issues.

Download this free white paper for some ideas on managing BYOD in education:

Please note that I work for Ericom

Shellie's picture

In my special education classroom, I allow students to bring their own devices. Students are working on their goals, that linked to the state standards. Some of the students use their devices for, quizlets, dragon dictation, e-readers, or just to access different teacher's power point presentations. It is essential in my classroom that students are aloud to bring their own devices. Many of them download personal learning apps onto their smartphone, that they use on a daily basis. It would be very difficult for me to integrate technology to help support the student's goals without allowing students to bring their own devices.

LILY NAIR's picture
Vice Principal, Secondary and HistoryTeacher in the High School

I would be interested in knowing what systems or policies need to be introduced to ensure safety and responsibillity while introducing technology at all levels?

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal, Author of Facilitating Authentic Learning, Director of the Antioch Critical Skills Program; Elementary Library Media Specialist

I'm curious- what's the feedback you're getting from teachers on this? Are they feeling like it's helpful- that learning is taking place and the time invested in learning and using the tools is worth it? What conditions are specific to your school culture that other schools would want to emulate before trying to implement this? I love the way you're thinking- I'm just wondering about transferability and effectiveness in terms of student learning outcomes.

Dan Callahan's picture
Dan Callahan
Professional Learning Specialist, Edcamper, Graduate Professor

I think the way your district is thinking about this is pretty interesting. Now that it's been some time, have you found it more difficult when teachers across different teams don't always have a common platform to be able to share what they're doing? There's a pretty big difference in capabilities from an iPod Touch and a laptop, after all.

CarolynNicole's picture

I think BYOD is important also becuase most companies are BYOD. I've been teaching in my district for 11 years and finally received an iPad but I've worked as an actor, model, fitness instructor & freelance writer part-time throughout my teaching career and those were all BYOD enviornments. You were just expected to have technology and know how to use it.


Sign in to comment. Not a member? Register.