Exploring "Bring Your Own Technology" and Project-Based Learning



Old Cell Phone

Welcome to my latest adventure in teaching middle school science.  Next year my school will begin BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) in the classroom.  Students will be allowed, even encouraged, to use their own mobile, wireless devices for instruction during class.  When I first heard this I panicked as my mind flooded with questions and concerns.  First, I wondered if I could really learn the technology and classroom management skills necessary to be successful.  Next, I worried that students would not feel included or would not be prepared for standardized testing.  Finally, I realized that the way I teach and access student learning would have to change for BYOT to be implemented in a way that would be meaningful to students and applicable to real life.

At the time,  I owned a little red cell phone that only made phone calls and I had never sent or opened a text message.  I left things like blogs, Twitter, text messages, chat rooms, wikis, QR codes, avatars,  and apps to the younger generation.  I was content as long as my husband or son were nearby to show me which remote to use or to troubleshoot my laptop when something went wrong.  Personally, I used technology to send emails, shop, research, pay bills, prepare documents, or take pictures.  In my classroom, I incorporated online games, quizzes, videos, current events, and media presentations into my class webpage.  Sometimes I reserved the school computers so that students could complete online labs, simulations, conduct research, or review material.  I was comfortable, but something was missing.

After completing BYOT training, for the last two days, I realize this is not about technology devices, but about making education relevant to students of the 21st century.  The skills necessary for future success include critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity- the Four C’s.   Modeling and practicing those skills in my classroom will require changes in how I plan and present lessons, in classroom management and communication, and in my expectations and assessments of students.   I have a great deal to learn and it is exciting.

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