doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Blogging: A Case for BYOD

I wrestled with the title for this post because it’s not easily implemented.  Please bear with me.

If I could only sit down at 10:10am in the morning and blog, I don’t think I’d ever get anything done.  Blogging is something that’s done when I get the chance to have a few quiet moments by myself.  Even then, it’s seldom that I sit down and write a post completely from beginning to end.  I’m not even sure that “blog” is what I ultimately do.  It’s more like “assemble”.

I’d hazard a guess that over half of my thoughts that eventually end up as a post are spawned during a dog walk.  Jaimie and I get out at least three times a day and as we’re walking down the road or through the park, he’ll say “Why don’t you blog about this?”  Usually, he’s right but I’m nowhere near a keyboard.  My 10:10am would occur when we arrive back home and he’s in the back yard.  By the time I’m sitting at the keyboard (if I can get to it), I’ll have forgotten what I was going to write about.  But fortunately, once I have received the inspiration while we’re walking (or he’s investigating the bushes), I can make a few notes on my phone so that they’re not lost when I get home.

“I come up with the ideas”.

I had a chat with a friend of mine who teaches in the Junior years and he was questioning the value of blogging for his students.  They were scheduled in “the lab” or they “got the laptops” at 10:10 and he really wanted to blog.  He saw all the ties to his Language Arts and Social Studies program.  There was no question about that.  The question was making the process worthwhile both in terms or time and quality.  These are great concerns of his – he wants to make every moment count.

But as long as the “blogging time” evolved around allocated computer time, time really becomes the enemy.  You know the drill:  travel time, logging in, fixing a computer that’s not booting correctly, classroom management, getting started, different keyboarding abilities, …

Fortunately, he is progressive and allows his students to connect to the wireless in the class so that they can “Google Stuff” when it’s needed.  To be honest, he does more than that but the “Google Stuff” was the first thing that came to his mind.

So we talked about what else could be done with the student devices.  Brainstorming, mindmapping, beginning a post, search for copyright friendly images and videos, proofreading, … the ideas just kept coming.

Now, we all know that this doesn’t just happen overnight, you don’t just flip a switch and the magic happens and it’s not nearly as easy as that for complete success.  However, he’s excited about the concept of doing all of this before ever getting near the computers during his alloted time.

He also noted that the timing is right for this thinking.  With classes starting shortly, there’s new routines and times to be learned.  He’s planning on making blogging a significant part of the new year by changing his approach.

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One response to “Blogging: A Case for BYOD”

  1. It still irritates me to no end me how we can all be a part of a system so un-dynamic that necessary changes take so very long to implement. Perhaps its because:
    1-the education system is huge and in the interest of equity and fairness to all we have to ensure that everyone can partake of whatever changes we make.
    2-our funding structure is lean and tightly controlled. There’s very little room for discretion and only miniscule amounts that can be spent anyway once the ‘bills’ (salaries, busing, maintenance and consumables) are paid. All ISPs and tech companies treat education as just another market so there are no breaks. Big old schools pay as if they were big old profit-generating companies
    3-There is always an entrenched undercurrent at all levels of our profession–and most importantly from those just outside it who still get a big say–that resists change “just because.”
    4-And of course the simple fact that kids are kids and whatever network we build had better be robust because, buddy, our kids will find ways to flatten and misuse whatever bandwidth we throw at it 🙂
    That said. These are all just considerations, not impossibilities. There are solutions for each and every one of them.
    1-hugeness is no excuse. The airlines, banks and retail networks can do it–they have made IT essential; it’s what makes them competitive. Given that we all have at least one degree it just plain kills be to think that we–intelligent, well-educated people–could let ourselves lag so far behind.
    2-Education is government-controlled so all that really needs to happen is that we, the tax-paying people, ensure that there’s enough political will to find the funding and, at the federal level, to tweak the legislation to ensure that education’s rates are more in-keeping with the public can afford.
    3-Reason can win over the nay-Sayers if two conditions are met: A-the cause is just and defensible (that should be a no-Brainer here) and B-the champions persist and refuse to accept NO.
    4-Ahhhhh…. the REAL issue. No simple answers there but that’s what we have paid professionals in place for. Yes this is a big thorny issue but, collectively, we’re up to it….right???

    A while ago I figured out how to become somewhat rich: invent and implement an appliance-based solution that does this WELL (there are already solutions that do it, but not well).
    A-Identify registered BYOD machines. Yes, students and staff would have to register their device for first-time use. Easily done–hit its ‘website’ and allow the device in question to be port-scanned. Once that’s done and the device identified as fit for use (no viruses, root-kits, etc) enter your student/employee ID. A smart card type of ID would come in handy here.
    B-Depending on school policy enable Tier 1 or Tier 2 access as follows:
    Tier 1: Raw Internet; no special privileges; no local access. Good for guests or for just starting out.
    Tier 2: (And this is the hard part) Partition (create a school/personal space on the machine) and then populate the school partition with district-authorized applications. Give access, as per district policy, to authorized services such as LMS or printing.
    As expected student access would be segmented from the school’s basic infrastructure such as the student information system to preclude any possibility of monkey business. Students would also be warned that communications may be monitored. They are, after all, under our care so as a school we would be completely within our rights to do that–just as any parent would.

    Oh, and Doug, I have no doubt, judging from Jamie’s kind, wise eyes, who the brains of the outfit really are 🙂


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