Words Are Far More Important Than Word

BYOD rolls on here in the overly-large school district. Now in our second year, the progress is not as fast as the very-impatient me would like but at least the direction is forward, so I remain optimistic.

While our middle schools and even some elementary schools are doing some great work with integrating student devices, many of the high schools are doing a lot of foot dragging. A recent short discussion with an assistant principal revealed one reason why.

When I asked about BYOD at his school he told me they really hadn’t done much about it. Following up on the why, he gave me some of the usual discipline, “we have no control over what the kids might do” excuses, and I pushed back on all of them.

Then he told me that, aside from all that, students probably wouldn’t come with the right software on their devices making them useless for instruction.

“Right” software?

Yeah, like Word and PowerPoint. “They really can’t get anything done in their classes without those programs.”

I wish I understood the reverence felt towards the Microsoft Office package. Most people know don’t use more than 20% of the capabilities of Word, maybe a little more in PowerPoint, less in Excel, and I can’t name anyone who willingly opens Access.

Anyway, I didn’t have time to explain the error of his approach, one that I expect is pretty common.

However, what this AP and other educators need to realize is that it’s far more important to define what it is we want students to be able to do with their devices rather than to think in terms of brand names.

When it comes to BYOD, kids should be able to use their devices for writing, accessing and reading information, taking and editing images, and moving their work somewhere. The exact software that gets the job done is irrelevant.

I know many teachers are nervous about this lack of consistency and loss of control in their classrooms. Get over it.

Let your students be responsible for the technology and concentrate instead on what you want them to learn from and do with those devices. As should always be the case, the learning is far more important than the device.

3 Comments Words Are Far More Important Than Word

  1. Doug Johnson

    Hi Tim,

    I believe in our district the adoption of GoogleApps has been very helpful, if not critical, in implementing our BYOD programs. Like you, I wish our teachers were moving more quickly in helping students use their own devices productively, but the inability to access Office has not been give as a reason.


  2. Jim Randolph

    Yes, this! We’re just now dipping our toe into BYOD and I haven’t heard this crock of an excuse yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me. We’re married to PCs. And Internet Explorer of all things. It’s kinda crazy.

  3. Charmona Whitfield

    Yes! I think if I were in a HS again teaching I would be excited about BYOD. Just about every student has a phone or tablet at this point. Which means they have a way to take notes, take a picture, access the web, etc. I would love it. You are right, let students be responsible for the technology. Are students still required to keep binders and notebooks? Do teachers still pass out handouts or is everything kept digital? I am sad to hear that HS of all places is slow to use BYOD.


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