Monday, 21 April 2014

Getting Students going on a Tablet

Wow! it has been a while since I blogged.

At my school we have been running a BYOT (tablet) programme for two years. This involves both the Grade 6 (11-12 year old) and Grade 7 (12-13 year old) students.

I our first year we struggled to get the grade 6 students up to par with using the Tablets in class and so in January 2014 we implemented a Tablet licence for these students. The idea was to use Edmodo to introduce the students to the schools workflow solution, to introduce them to working on a tablet and to make sure they all had the required apps in order to use a tablet effectively at school.

To start the process we used a Google Doc to get input from all the Grade 6 teachers and create an outline to follow in order to ensure that we covered all our bases. At the end of this process we had 30 major items that every student needed to be aware of in order to use their tablet properly. These were then grouped into Modules or learning tasks.

1. Create an outline document for your schools work flow

Once we had the modules we needed to find a way for students to access them, without having tablets at school.

For this part I decided to run the licence via Edmodo, firstly because we use Edmodo at school and secondly because the students need to be comfortable using Edmodo to both receive tasks and to hand in completed work. The first step was to create a group that the students could join:

Create a group

After that I created modules for each student to complete. The licence is self-paced and open to all Grade 6 students. I started by loading to Assignments (Modules) each week. The module below used commonsense Media's Digital Passport to introduce the students to sensible online behavior.

3. Set assignments that cover your content

Once a student finishes a module to my satisfaction they receive a badge to show that they have completed the specified task.

4. Award your badges as work is completed
In this case once a student had earned the first 9 badges they were allowed to bring a tablet to school. This signals the start of part 2 of the licence which will show students how to use their Tablet in class. The 'Whoo Hoo' badge signaled the specific students permission to bring a Tablet to school, get the key to their Tablet Locker and start using the Tablet in classes.

5. Hand out the licence

Part 1 on the licence covered the following 'modules':

  1. The schools Acceptable Use Policy.
  2. Digital Citizenship.
  3. Password Management (Security of and remembering their passwords)
  4. Email etiquette
  5. Email Setup (Labels and filters)
  6. Edmodo assignment turn in.
  7. Google Calendar.
  8. App/Play/Windows store account setup
  9. Social Media safety
  10. App readiness (in terms of getting all the recommenced apps for school)

Over the course of administering this process the main problems I had were:
  1. with keeping up with the administration of the modules (96 kids and 11 assignments so far, with 12 to go) 
  2. keeping all the students on track on a self-paced project. The issueing of  the first few 'licences' did help though.
  3. handing out the badges. As of now Edmodo has no way of automatically awarding a badge with a pass mark (Would love it if more people suggested this as a future feature for the Edmodo developers)
At the end of it all this licence has empowered the students in terms of knowing what is expected of them once they have a tablet at school. The teachers are more comfortable with the fact that students have tablets because they know that they are able to assign tasks and use the tablets in class knowing that the students are prepared for this sort of teaching.

Phase two of the licence start in May and I will do another post on how that goes. This part will cover:

  1. Setting up the tablet
  2. It's crashed, now what?
  3. Backing up and restoring the tablet and work on the tablet.
  4. Reading on the tablet (Kindle, iBooks and others. Also looking at the differences of the various formats, PDF, ePub etc)
  5. It’s safe! Safety and security of the Tablet. Including having a cover, using the school lockers and tracking the device.
  6. General classroom rules an the Tablet AUP.