1:1 Computing, BYOD and BYOT


Phases in the school evolutionary journey

Mal Lee

The research undertaken in the preparation of the forthcoming publications on The Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages and Digital Normalisation and School Transformation reveals that 1:1 computing, BYOD and BYOT are but phases, albeit important phases, in schooling’s evolutionary journey to the normalised use of the digital in every facet of the school’s operations, teaching and administrative, in and outside the school walls.

Now that the first of the pathfinder schools globally have succeeded in normalising BYOT, in having the children use the technology of their choice and move to the digital normalisation evolutionary stage (http://www.schoolevolutionarystages.net) we are in the position to affirm the reading of the trend line that Martin Levins and I made in Bring Your Own Technology several years ago that suggested

BYOT requires sophisticated thinking and astute leaders, willing to lead….

Think carefully about the kind of base you need in order to prepare for BYOT to quickly disappear from the school’s vernacular and for it to become as normal, invisible and all-pervasive as the use of the pen and paper (Lee and Levins, 2012, p3).

That is what has transpired in the pathfinders.  In normalising the use of the children’s choice of digital technology, in trusting and respecting their choice, in according them operational responsibility for the care and maintenance of their own kit and vitally placing the onus on them to understand the workings of that hardware, the software and apps they choose BYOT as a term has quickly slipped from the vernacular and the approach is seen for what it is elsewhere in society the natural thing to do.

Pause for a second and ask if in time all schools will normalise the use of the digital in all their operations – and I suspect none today will disagree with that largely inevitable development.

The pathfinder’s normalisation of BYOT helps place the work occurring in the later adopter schools in perspective, and vitally to kill the notion apparent in some schools that its current approach is a magic technological solution that will remain in place for years to come.  As stressed in my writing on school evolution http://www.schoolevolutionarystages.net) once organisations, be they schools, banks or newspapers move to a digital operational base they will evolve naturally as the technology evolves, as the user’s expectations rise and as the understanding of what is possible with the technology grows.  They will constantly move from low to more sophisticated higher order solutions

1:1 computing and all the controls placed by the school on the students is as apparent in the school evolutionary continuum a relatively lower order approach, typically found in schools that have yet to get all the teachers using the digital technology in their teaching.

BYOD, where the school still strongly controls the children’s use of their own technology is a higher order solution in that its is prepared to begin recognising the reality of the networked world.  However looked at in the total scheme of things it is only a slight advance.

That said let’s be clear, both the 1:1 computing and BYOD can in some schools, particularly high schools be an important and appropriate strategy in the school’s evolution and move to digital normalisation.

But both are solutions that do not need to be used by all schools.

Schools where all the teachers are using the digital technology everyday in their teaching can move directly to BYOT.  This is particularly evident in primary/elementary schools but is also evident in some secondary schools.

The strong signs are that basically all schools wanting to move to the digital normalisation evolutionary stage and beyond will inevitably need to move through the BYOT phase.

The vital aspect of the BYOT phase is that the school has to be willing to trust the children to choose their own kit and to experience the cultural shift associated with moving from the position where the school unilaterally controls the teaching to where is it prepared to distribute that control and genuinely collaborate with the homes and students from this stage in the 24/7/365 schooling of the young.

BYOT is in retrospect a key indicator of the school’s readiness to leave behind the teaching mode of the Industrial Age with its insular stand-alone thinking and to move to a teaching mode befitting an ever more networked and collaborative society.



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