eSchool News featured an article, North Carolina pushing for digital devices to replace textbooks, that talks about a law requiring the public schools in the state to allocate more funds for digital tools and iPads and to align curriculum to digital devices and instruction. The law requires the conversion to be completed by 2017.
Similar shifts are happening in other states, in addition to a call from Education Secretary Duncan to shift to digital learning over the next five years.
How have your schools started to shift to digital instruction?
How does this legislation impact your teaching?
Do students learn more through digital instruction?
Schools in my area have begun adopting BYOD to supplement the lack of computer devices for all students. However, not all educators embrace the educational use of personal phones, iPods, iPads, Kindles, Nooks, and so forth. Part of it is the lack of support to be able to give students that may run into issues. I think that digital devices are an everyday tool that kids use. Through the school environment they can learn how to choose the right digital device for the task at hand. Many teachers are beginning to flip their classes and/or use blended learning. When I prepared a SmartBoard lesson, I would add audio clips and video to enhance the activity.
When students in a classroom have devices, the instruction in that classroom has to change to reflect the abilities and needs of a new environment where basic information is readily available. That is where the thinking, analyzing, and evaluating have to come into play so much more. Not everyone is going to be doing the same thing the same way at the same time.
Even though we know BYOD may not be necessarily the best thing for students (due to the limitations of not everybody having the same access to the same things), that is a move that we, like many other school districts, are having to make due to financial cuts.
We are focusing on supporting a pedagogical change with our teachers and are requiring professional development as we embark on this journey.
Just because a student has a device, that does not mean they automatically learn more or better.
It is how the teacher/facilitator is able to shape/guide/direct the learning experiences made possible by the devices that will make the difference ...
Melissa, I think you make a good point that the way teachers use digital devices in instruction directly impacts the effectiveness of the digital device as a learning tool. I think more and more schools will be investigating a BYOD policy due to funding cuts, device availability, student motivation, etc.
As teachers and administrators consider BYOD, I recommend checking out the responses in another discussion: Has your school implemented a BYOD program?
Since we are teaching a generation of digital natives, I believe technology ultimately will increase student performance but not without a teacher's wisdom and creativity.
In reference to your question, "Do students learn more through digital instruction?"...I thought you might enjoy this link to infographic on the topic (something I came across in Getting Smart think.learn.innovate). It shows the many ways students grow and learn from digital experiences.
Where is the research?
I can believe the hypothesis that digital instruction may increase the time a student stays focused on a task, but does it increase student performance? I remember a 3rd grade student who 25 years ago separated students in his class into two groups, one group was allowed to practice their facts on the computer before school, during recess, and even for a little while after school. The other group was told to memorize their math facts. Each week everyone was tested with a Mad Minute sheet where students answered math problems in one minute. Sheets were scored for number of problems answered correctly minus incorrect responses. The chart was most interesting showing student performance for each group was fascinating!
If one young student could perform his own research for a Science Fair project, why don't we have more research to make better decisions in education?
I love your question regarding the research. Is it possible the research being done isn't the research needed? For example, students take a reading test three times a year. This is to show growth (or lack there of). How is the data collected used? Is there time for a teacher to analyze and compare? Are decisions made based on the results? Do teaching practices change?