BYOD at George Spencer Academy
George Spencer Academy Bring Your Own Device article
Why does George Spencer Academy currently operate a ‘bring your own device’ policy?
We feel the timing is difficult for technology in schools as we are at a tipping point between laptops/netbooks, with their established practice, and tablets, which have not yet proved themselves in an educational setting. An investment either way would not be sound at this point and this has been justified by the many failed schemes around. On the other hand, we do not want to rest on our laurels, so by operating a BYOD policy staff and students can continue to explore the issues and uses ready for whatever the next stage may be. This model fits well with a personalised approach as it helps to make the technology 'invisible'. We have made an open wireless network available for free that provides filtered, high-speed internet access from any capable device. This model removes the need for technician and administration time but also reduces the level of monitoring and control that is possible.
What about an acceptable use policy?
We have a new technologies policy which covers this but ultimately our policy is still really ‘teacher discretion’. They control the learning and as they build confidence this is essential. This allows the teacher to set the pace of embedding mobile device use in their subject. In terms of sanctions, we aim to punish the behaviour and not the device. There will be occasions where a device is used inappropriately – this would be punished because a student has either disobeyed a member of staff’s instructions or has not completed the work as expected. Many schools find getting the AUP right a real challenge. We still feel it is easily solved in a school with solid discipline as the misuse sits within the standard sanctions. Overall, AUPs developed by students and agreed by parents and governors are usually the most successful. Students also tend to come up with far tougher sanctions than teachers as they understand the risks staff are taking and want students that disrupt the process to be punished.
What are the staff doing at the moment?
Two things. They are building confidence with the classroom management of student-owned devices and they are exploring ways in which the device can support learning. This is a key step as each member of staff needs some concrete examples of how the device can support learning in their subject before they will change their practice permanently. This is our challenge for this year – to find good learning uses of devices that are 'better' than the traditional methods already used. We are using Student Digital Leaders to support this process. This group is 25 students who can support staff in the use of web tools and also advise on potential uses to be explored. These students have delivered twilight CPD sessions on the use of web tools as well as led a whole-school INSET day where they operated as consultants to the different departments. It is together that staff will explore the different functions in different subjects whether it is the use as a camera in science, geography geocaching, languages audio recording or QR codes in maths.