BYOD or bust

If your school provides a laptop or tablet for every student, you might just want to skip reading this post.

I got thinking about this at a recent trip to Sobey’s in town. The guard who counts the number of people allowed in the store has another role to play in public safety. It’s his/her job to sterilize the shopping cart handles as they’re put into place for the customers. In fact, they have their own table of sanitizer separate from the rest of us who go into the store.

When you think about it, those shopping cart handles are a frequent touch point – maybe even the highest touch point since we have automatic doors. So, it only makes sense to give them a wipe down before putting them back into operation.

That got me thinking about computer carts in schools.

We’ve really evolved over the years with providing access to computer and other technology for students. We started with two or three at the back of the room with students cycling through them, to everyone marching to the computer lab or the library for their “computer class” to computers coming in on carts with wireless access to the “point of instruction”. The common thread to this concept of sharing computers is grimy, filthy keyboards. Oh, and monitors with finger prints on them. Oh, and black edges around monitors as students adjust them for their height. Touch points with laptop carts don’t stop there. After each use, they need to be returned to the cart and plugged in so that there’s plenty of power for the next user. It’s also quite the gathering spot to await your turn to return your device.

Even if you take a good look at your own device right now, you might be a little disgusted with the dirt, smudges, and germs that you see or know to be there. If you’re like me, you probably keep a can of compressed air within reach to blow out the crumbs and goodness knows whatever drops in there.

I looked around to see what kind of advice is available to educators and found a link to this document on the Ontario Music Educators’ Association website.

Cleaning and Disinfection for Public Settings

It’s but one resource found at their COVID-19 resource page found here.

More impressively, they have created and shared

A Framework for The Return to Music Classes in 2020/2021

They take their advocacy seriously and I would suggest that it’s great reading for all educators and their context easily adapted for yours. This is exactly what a subject association should be doing in these times. You can’t pretend that nothing has changed and you’ll be back to whatever passes for normal the first of September.

So, back to computer use.

These are my thoughts on the use of computer technology for the fall. I think I’m normally a cautious person anyway but would be more cautious for the month of September anyway.

Computer Science teachers, I suspect, will be among the “luckiest” in terms of students having their own technology to bring to class. Now, more than ever, I’d be promoting that for those students and would spend considerable time at the beginning making sure that they have the same resources and configuration to be successful. You might even want to take Andrew Dobbie’s lead.

For other classes, a revisit to pedagogy would be in order. The good old teacher computer connected to a data projector or large monitor can be used for some of the important things that all students should know. Collaborative programming, internet search skills, media literacy, etc. easily come to mind.

Lots has been said about how the rules for general society aren’t being transferred to the school setting. At least in this one case, you’re in control. Choose wisely.

Please take a moment to share your back to school computing thoughts in the comments.

4 thoughts on “BYOD or bust

  1. We may be seeing the end of the traditional computer lab. My old school has removed all of the computers from the computer lab and each student brings their own device to school. Students connect with remote desktop to a virtual machine with all of the school’s licensed software. It’s as if they were using the school’s computers no matter what device they have. The increased flexibility has awesome potential. To say nothing of how easy it makes the transition if students have to go back to being remote.


  2. Pingback: OTR Links 08/27/2020 – doug — off the record

  3. Doug, I left this post open on my browser to think about more and comment, and I forgot to go back to it yesterday. I’m thinking about device use in a kindergarten classroom (yes, I’m being selfish here). For us, kids would most often use an iPad to capture learning: photograph, video, or both. Sometimes a device might be used for more of a research purpose. I’ve handed over my iPad and Paula’s handed over her phone more times than I can count, but now these actions could come with additional risk. We’d never have 1:1 devices in a K classroom though, and nor would I want that. Considering that our students use touch screen technology, if they use any, you’re making me wonder what sanitation would be like between uses. Here we are thinking about how to divide up so many of our other materials for individual student use. What about technology? It turns out that I’m still thinking. 🙂



  4. I should do some work and figure out what we can safely clean devices with! I used some sort of cleaner on my computer screen at some point and now it isn’t shiny any more. I don’t want to do that to all the school devices. I think I can use a spritz of rubbing alcohol and a cloth, but I should double check. That should clean the fingerprints and the various other germs that appear on the computer. I have cleaned stuff with plain water before, but will need to be a bit more serious about it this year.

    We also gave up our computer lab just last year. Computers were sent to classes so we each have one now (plus a cart with laptops and 2 iPad carts). We needed the computer lab space for other things. We all miss the lab though.


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