Expand not Escape

I’ve opened up the floodgates. Students are bringing their own technology to my class.

First, a little context.

Most of the locations in our board are now completely wireless. The wifi is accessible with a student or staff username and password. The wifi in our school in particular is, in my opinion, just about as stable and reliable (touch wood) as one could expect. This is why I am lucky enough to be able to use my own personal Macbook and iPhone in the building.

My school is a comfortably middle class SES demographic. I would guesstimate that 95% of students have the most common technology and gadgets one would see in any Best Buy flyer. ‘Needy’ would not be a word to describe the students and families. I would not, however, classify them as privileged in a negative sense. On the contrary. A more rewarding community to be a teacher in I may never find again.

When given permission to bring in their own devices, my class of 31 (yes, sigh, 31) brought in 18 iPod Touches, 3 Nintendo DSis, 3 cell phones, and 3 laptops. That means that the classroom resources we have more than compensate for students not bringing devices in.

There are a few reasons why I’ve decided to do this in my class when most are staying clear with a 100 yard pole:

  • I want to effect change. I can’t bear the idea of my own children attending school without the ability to connect wirelessly to a network at school with their OWN device. It gives me a sharp pain in my stomach.
  • I want to explore. I want to see what it means to Backchannel, engage, be metacognitive, be critically literate, self-efficacious when students are permitted to use their OWN devices.
  • I want to listen to my students. They want it. They are very articulate in explaining why. Their devices are sitting in their backpacks and bedrooms collecting Facebook dust. No one else is facilitating their understanding of these devices as pedagogical and metacognitive tools.

Thanks to the following twitter buddies for inspiring this blogpost:

@kentmanning and @techieang, for their questions which sparked my need to blog it out

@rdelorenzo, for the great resources he provides on mobile learning (like this podcast on a mobile learning project in the States: http://podcast.cbc.ca/spark/plus-spark_20100317_mariebjerede.mp3)

@digitalnative, for everything

@slouca11, for also jumping into the handhelds in the classroom pedagogical casino with me (wouldn’t have done it without him)

@aaron_eyler, for this (among other) blogposts:

Recently, I read a tweet that made the following statement: the 21st century is a bad time to be a control freak. We need to start preaching that in our schools. Every teacher should feel it is his or her role to subvert the curriculum and prompt students to demand choice and democracy within the structure. It’s time for students to say enough with the uniform curriculum, enough with the uniform scope and sequence, enough with the rows, and enough with the hierarchy.

(from: http://coopcatalyst.wordpress.com/2010/03/22/democracy-starts-from-the-bottom-up/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter)

I’m going to try my best to post updates on our class’s trials and tribulations. Stay tuned.



  1. BRAVO! I’m so glad I will be able to read along and experience your journey with you. Thanks for blogging about hand helds. I hope to read about the impact on student learning, the pitfalls and the truimphs. Best of luck. I’d love to hear a podcast from your students on how they feel about this experience.

  2. Royan,

    Thank you for taking the time to write about your mobile devices experience in your classroom.

    It just makes so much sense especially since your school has wireless. Oh, the number of times I’ve been in elementary schools and I could have used a wireless connection. We have two elementary schools with wireless and we’re getting there adding schools as the months go by. A good thing.

    I like your rationale for starting. Change. It has to begin at some point.

    Just wondering your spin when you spoke about it with your Principal? What was your conversation like? What about the parents? Did you have to send a letter home?

    Anyway, thanks again for blazing the trail for us. I’m sure we’ll all be interested in how things are going in the days and weeks to come.


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