BYOD focuses on the learning, not the tool

Bring Your Own Device strategies in K-12 education are not new.  Every day, whether you have a BYOD strategy in place or not, students and staff are using their personally owned devices in your district.  Whether or not you are taking advantage of this or ignoring the opportunity, is currently the debate. At Omaha Public Schools, my belief is 1:1 is just a ratio not a program, and BYOD happens even when that ratio is a 1:1.  Today’s environment exists ubiquitous of what types of devices and where we are accessing information from. It isn’t one or the other anymore – our students and staff demand more.

BYOD is the solution needed to move us past banning, past worries about student-owned devices being used to fuel instruction and moves us towards personalized learning, differentiated instructional strategies, where the focus is on the learning and not on the tool.  It allows us to raise the level of technology use to the transformational level in which students become information producers, not consumers.  Teachers that embrace these BYOD initiatives empower the students to be the technology experts.  When the district/school rolls out laptops to every student, then the teacher has to know how that laptop works along with all of the software on it.  When students have difficulty with their personal devices, they are able to help each other, and the teacher isn’t expected to know how all of the devices work.  The teacher is supposed to focus on the teaching, and this involves learning along with the students as they explore new ideas and solve original problems.  The teacher does not need to dictate how to use technology; instead, the teacher can offer suggestions and advice, and the students can develop their own solutions.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Treat students like 21st century adolescents. Many of them own and use these devices outside of school. If we can focus use on learning, then why would we not allow them to bring these tools and use them in school?
  • Begin to change the way students view their electronic devices by changing the language used to refer to them. Students need to fully understand that electronic items are tools for learning. Teachers should make consistent efforts to refer to them as mobile learning devices.
  • A BYOD initiative can actually supplement what a school might already have in terms of technology and increase access. For example, let’s say a school has a laptop cart with only 20 devices because that is all that could be afforded, but there are 25 students in the class. Student owned technology could then be utilized to close this gap.
  • Unacceptable use is dealt with accordingly based on a school’s discipline code. This should not be considered different than any other infraction.
  • Lastly, it’s the pedagogy, not the technology. Technology should always be at the service of pedagogy. The power of integrating technology into the classroom is the power it has to redefine the relationships in the classroom and reorient them toward a more student-centered approach to learning.

What needs to be in place?

The needed components to implement a BYOD-based 1:1 program include:

  • Sustainable funding for children who cannot afford to purchase their own device and subscribe to Internet services
  • A tiered support model for effective technology support with existing technology staffing
  • Expansion of the network bandwidth to meet the higher traffic loads and traffic patterns generated by mobile learning
  • Mobile Device Management Interface for deploying/managing tiered devices
  • A secure network with role-based wireless and identity services to protect the organization from infected devices and hacker attacks
  • Expansion of mobile learning to be integrated with LMSs, assessment, single sign-on, and other school applications
  • Provision of a content-filtering application that is age-appropriate and flexible, based on need
  • Devices that meet a minimum screen size and processing capability so that the devices can run all curriculum and digital content and students can interact with the software effectively
  • Expansion of the Responsible Use Policy for email and Internet usage that includes a simple BYOD policy

About the Author:

Rob Dickson, Executive Director of Information Management Systems, Omaha Public Schools. Rob Dickson’s technical understanding of how technology should support student learning contributed to his previous district’s ranking among the “top ten” digital districts in the nation four of the past five years. Among Dickson’s accomplishments are leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education and advising many schools across the country with their technology planning and integration. Dickson was recently named 2014s “20 to Watch” from NSBA for innovation and technology integration work. Dickson currently directs the instructional technology program and all of the technology infrastructure work for Omaha Public Schools as the Executive Director of Information Management Systems and is also the Co-Founder of GreyED Solutions. Follow him on twitter @showmerob

Lightspeed Learning Academy

collaborative-learningSource: eSchool News

Lightspeed Technologies, a provider of classroom audio solutions, is launching the Lightspeed Learning Academy, which will kick off with a one-day professional development event, and a new leadership webinar series.

The Learning Leadership Webinar Series will feature a lineup of experts discussing various topics related to collaborative Learning. Some of the speakers include:

Steven Anderson, digital evangelist, “What is Collaboration Anyway?”

Ashleigh Schultz, teacher, Calcasieu Parish, “What Works in a Differentiated Learning Classroom?”

Dr. Julie Carter, former executive director of technology for Minnetonka Schools, Founder/CEO  GreyED on “Navigating the Landscape of the 21st Century Classroom: Ensuring Full Access to Learning.”

Make the Most of Pilot Opportunities Webinar


Thanks to Agile for inviting us to share our thoughts and perspectives through their webinar series! Dr. Julie Carter speaks on making the most of pilot opportunities in this one hour informative presentation. Watch the webinar now and download the slide deck for your reference.


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

Source: SmartBrief SmartBlog

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”– Lao Tzu

I’ve always had an innate sense for helping others, a desire to assist and spring into action when an opportunity arises. Starting my career as a kindergarten teacher, there was no shortage of opportunities for helping. There was helping to build routines, helping to facilitate friendships, helping to thwart off homesickness, helping to tie shoes and zip coats and certainly helping to build foundational academic skills. The joy I found in teaching and learning was the ability to help these little minds develop, process and understand the world around them. What I had not anticipated was the amount of helping that would take place with my colleagues as my career continued as a classroom teacher.

GreyED Solutions, in partnership with iPadpalooza launch “Pre-Palooza”

Source: District Administration

Feedback Forums offered by GreyED Solutions offer iPadpalooza participants yet another unique, innovative learning opportunity at summer festival

 Now more than ever it is imperative that vendors are creating and designing solutions that improve and adapt to teaching and learning practices, not the other way around.  GreyED Solutions is thrilled to announce their partnership with iPadpalooza, to offer a full day of feedback forums on “Pre-Palooza”.  The event will take place prior to the start of iPadpalooza on June 22nd.

“iPadpalooza brings together unique learning opportunities for everyone in education and is really centered around giving educators a voice,” said Carl Hooker, founder of iPadpalooza. “Partnering with GreyED Solutions to bring this “Pre-Palooza” feedback forum is another step in the evolution of what this learning festival is all about.  It’s an opportunity for leaders to make their voices heard and provide feedback to a variety of companies involved in education.  We’re excited to add this new feature to our already highly interactive event.”

Why technology must be invisible during ed tech roll outs

Source: eSchool News

One district leader shares his philosophy for invisible tech roll outs that focus on goals, not tools

When it comes to classroom and infrastructure technology implementations, it’s the equipment, software, and apps that usually take center stage. Rob Dickson thinks he’s found a better way to approach K-12 technology implementations, and in his mind the tech itself is not the focal point. In fact, Dickson, the executive director of information management systems (IMS) at Omaha Public Schools, thinks the equipment and tools being installed and put to work should be “invisible.”

eSchool Media to launch E3 Regional Assembly series

Source: eSchool Media

ESM Partners GreyED Solutions and Net4EdAccess, Announce the E3 Regional Assembly Series To Bring K12 Stakeholders & Industry Thought Leaders Together To Collaborate, Communicate and Break Down Barriers

Bethesda, MD January 14, 2015 – eSchool Media (ESM), is thrilled to announce the launch of its eSchool Experience and Exchange Regional Assembly Series (E3).  The vision behind the E3 series is to shed light on and provide a venue for collaboration between school, district and industry leaders to openly discuss and address the challenges facing education today and those of tomorrow while fostering conversations that lead to real, actionable solutions for our kids.

GreyED Solutions and SmartBrief join forces for content distribution to K-12 education technology leaders

Source: District Administration

“Tech Tips Tuesdays” Launches This Month

Busy K-12 education technology innovators looking to boost their know-how and expand their skill set now have a timely new resource. SmartBrief is pleased to announce “Tech Tips Tuesdays” in SmartBrief on EdTech, the leading daily K-12 Ed Tech newsletter. The tips, written by educators for educators, are being produced in partnership with GreyED Solutions, a company headed by nationally recognized education leaders serving K12 schools and the EdTech Industry.

When vendors and districts collaborate on professional development

Source: EdSurge

For the past year, Omaha Public Schools (OPS) has instituted change through the adoption of a new Strategic Plan and by passing the largest bond issue in Nebraska history. New leadership has been working diligently to create comprehensive initiatives that utilize technology as a component of a larger systemic shift directed toward collaborative learning and workspace environments.

To adopt new, meaningful technology at its lowest level, OPS has been asking the fundamental question: “Will this make a positive difference in our students’ learning?” The route of technology that a district decides upon can bring major benefits beyond this question. Technology has the ability to level the playing field for all students, by extending learning beyond the confines of a school building.

Building a successful support foundation for technology

Source: SmartBlog on Education

We didn’t all learn to drive the same car. In many school districts, technology is pushing forward into every school, classroom and home. Many choose the route of one-to-one computing, some chose BYOD and some are still finding it a challenge to choose between the two. It is important to start the process with a focus on students, without it there can be no real change. It is not about the device, and in the end, the technology should be invisible.