Misconceptions about BYOT

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. – Albert Einstein

With any BYOT initiative in K-12 education, there are advocates and there are those that think it’s a ‘terrible, horrible, no good very bad idea.’

I often read articles in online newspapers about schools who have initiated BYOT programs for staff members and students at K-12 public schools. The comments at the end of these articles include a barrage of misconceptions about BYOT and many of these posts come from misinformed parents.  Many simply do not understand the importance and the need for allowing teachers and students to use their own devices within an educational environment.  Many of the questions/comments are as follows:

  • Why should I send my kid to school with a device when it will just get broken, lost or stolen?
  • Kids can’t do basic math and need calculators to solve problems. This will only exacerbate the problem.
  • I thought screen time was a bad thing and now you want screen time in school?
  • Won’t this create a new form of bullying between “the haves” and the “have nots?”
  • My child’s teacher has never used an Android, but that’s what we use in our family. Now I have to go buy an iPad?
  • Technology is a distraction and teachers will use the devices as babysitters, allowing the kids to play games all day.
  • There is a lot of inaccurate information online. Students will just copy and paste “facts” that they find on Wikipedia into their projects.

I read these comments and I want to jump through the computer screen and get on my soapbox. I do my best to bite my tongue, but me being me, has to say something and defend this initiative that I believe so strongly in.  Maybe I can’t answer all of their questions, but if I could have just a few minutes to speak to these parents, this is what I would say.

Let’s start with three words: Digital Information Literacy. In this digital age with information at our fingertips, students AND adults must learn to evaluate and interpret this information.  Students must learn how to find and use reliable sources of information, because, let’s face it, there is a ton of inaccurate information out there. Most recently I had the opportunity to speak with concerned parents about the BYOT program at a public elementary school. There were a few concerns about unreliable sources and my response was that we cannot keep students from searching the Internet because they might run into incorrect information. We must teach students how to use Wikipedia the right way and how to discern a good source from a bad source. This must be part of their education and it can start at home. It is a fact that those who have online access and are digitally literate are more likely to be economically secure and at less risk than those who do not.” 

It is still important to learn math facts and grammar. More devices in the hands of our students allow them to reach beyond remembering and understanding to applying, analyzing, evaluating and CREATING. This is called Bloom’s Taxonomy or the “New Bloom’s.”

Professionals in careers are utilizing technology in the workplace to work more efficiently with a strong emphasis on innovation and creativity. Part of our job as educators is to prepare students for this world we live in; the 21st Century. With that involves helping them understand how technology can be used as a learning tool to travel through the entire cognitive process. If your school is not a Title I school with access to technology funds or a strong PTA school then there is limited tech available. BYOT is a solution to this. It allows students and teachers to take what they already use at home and bring it to school to learn how to use it appropriately in the educational environment. By allowing this, the district is helping students prepare for their college career….where BYOT is strongly encouraged as there is limited tech available within college classrooms for students to use during class time.

There is a time and a place for everything, of course, and devices will not always be out and in view. A huge part of the success of BYOT in a classroom is the teacher’s ability to manage his/her classroom. If a school is a BYOT school, it does not automatically mean that every teacher within that school is going to utilize BYOT on a daily basis, if at all. There are tech facilitators and specialists that work with teachers on BYOT strategies. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and pretend that this will go away. We will try things and fail and we will learn from our mistakes in the process.

A teacher is not expected to know everyone’s device or operating system. This would be impossible. The students know their device because it is theirs. There are many free web tools or apps that are similar in what they can do and can be used on the same project with many different devices and operating systems. A skill that students must learn is how to choose the best app/software for the task at hand. It doesn’t mean that every student in the class has to turn in a PowerPoint. They can each publish something different, such as a Glog, VoiceThread or Prezi, while still meeting the objectives or requirements of the projects.Parents are not required to send in tech with their children. I have a daughter in K and her school is not yet a BYOT school and even when it is, I will probably not send in any technology unless the teacher has a plan to use it within the classroom. As a parent, I feel that it is also my responsibility to meet my tech loving child where she is and show her that, yes, the Dora Explorer app for iPad is really fun, but we can also go to Google Translate to learn how to speak words in Spanish, record ourselves speaking those words, take some pictures and then make a movie out of it! I want her to see technology as a way to learn, but also as a way to share how imaginative and creative she really is.

This is a different world than the one we grew up in. The majority of our teachers stood in front of the room and we listened. That just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Is your school district on iTunes U?


iTunes U is a free service available to qualifying K-12 public school districts, dioceses, and private schools, as well as two- and four-year accredited, degree-granting, public or private colleges and universities  around the world. About a year ago I filled out an application for a public site on iTunes U for our K-12 district. In less than a year we have managed to grow our iTunes U channel including collections such as App of the Week and itWeekly! We were even showcased in this article by Fred Sitkins, Principal in Boyne City, MI.

Why should YOU sign up for a K-12 public site? The reasons are as follows:

  1. Practice creating content. By filming, editing and publishing videos and podcasts, teachers and students will gain invaluable skills. 
  2. Bridge the home-school connection by sharing out all of the amazing things students and teachers are doing in their classrooms throughout the district. 
  3. Create courses for teachers and students to build a blended learning environment. 
  4. Communicate your message. Create a show with updates, announcements, tips and tricks, etc. 

It’s easy to get your district on iTunes U, but first you should think about your goal in having a channel. Plan out which collections and courses you’d like to have and who will be in charge of production and publishing. It’s important to establish a regular posting schedule so that your viewers know when new content is coming. For example, App of the Week and itWeekly are published weekly! 

Ready to apply? Click here to get started!  We already know that sharing and collaborating is important and iTunes U is a another great way to do it! 


I had the opportunity to tour three BYOT schools in Forsyth County last week. I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in this amazing experience. As a former third grade teacher, walking into Shiloh Point Elementary and observing most, if not ALL, classes using project based learning strategies with their own tech, was like a dream! I can say, without a doubt, that this school is the perfect example of what a tech infused, PBL school should look like. Every class I visited was full of students using their own or school-purchased device/computer. Not only that, but students were USING the technology to create projects while working in small groups throughout the classrooms. I observed similar instruction and learning at Piney Grove Middle School and Lambert High. In all three schools I witnessed students creating books, illustrating slides for a presentation with paint tools, writing blog posts, building stop motion sets with Legos, demonstrating how to check out e-Books from the school library, and so much more. I kept telling my co-worker that the climate at these schools was a perfect fit for ME! As a child I would have been so engaged in these classes because the learning was authentic and engaging!

They are doing BYOT right in Forsyth County and I am truly inspired about rolling out this concept in Charlotte. It is necessary and long overdue! Of course I had such a great time documenting my experience on the BYOT tour that I had to put together a documentary! Please feel free to post your comments below. If you are interested in participating in the BYOT tour in Forsyth County, please visit Tim Clark’s amazing blog at http://byotnetwork.com/

Gaggle Student Rosters

I’ve been talking up Gaggle a lot on TechGirlJenny.com, but that is because having this subscription is huge and makes our lives, as teachers, so much easier. Not only does Gaggle offer safe social media tools, such as social walls, blogs and email for our students, it provides teachers and students with 7 GB of cloud storage! Teachers can also see their assigned classes on Gaggle and create assignment drop boxes to digitally collect and grade assignments without touching one sheet of paper! So, without further ado, here is another Gaggle Update for you!


1. Click on My Classes

2. Click on a class.

3. Click on Class Directory

4. View your class roster. The rosters will be updated regularly, so you do not need to move any students. Once the student is moved or added to NCWISE, they will be included in the next export and then uploaded to Gaggle. This process will take 24-48 hours usually, depending on when the change is populated to NCWISE.

Student usernames are their first initial last name last 4 of student ID and initial password is the same as the one they use for logging onto the computers. When they first log in they must complete the Cyber Safety Course before they will be able to use their account.

Now you can create assignment drop boxes with specific assignments for each of your classes! If you need assistance with creating assignments, please watch this video tutorial or contact me!

Gaggle App Update!


Our school district has been piloting the Gaggle app for a few weeks and we are really excited about the upcoming updates listed below. What I love most about Gaggle is that it truly solves the “problem” of the personal design of the iPad as it is being used by students in schools who must share this device with others. As I shared in a previous video, students can log in and out of email with the Gaggle app, upload images and video, upload files via WebDAV from the iPad and then access their digital lockers at home and on PCs in the school. It’s a wonderful way to go paperless and allow teachers to review and grade work with the click of a few buttons!

The upcoming Gaggle app updates will include:
-Blogs and the full DropBoxes
-Tapping an attachment in an email will now open the attachment in a separate view with a back button.
-Images will now appear in the mini document editor and will save back to the original file.
-Add ability to save an image from the Digital Locker to the local device (.jpg, .gif, .png)
-Add ability to save a video from the Digital Locker to the local device (.mov)
-Change Digital Locker “more” button to standard Action button
-Added a photo editor to the Digital Locker, when viewing a .jpg, .gif or .png file in the locker, tap the action button then select “Edit Image”

I’ve talked about using iCabMobile to download a Discovery Education video to the iPad’s camera roll and then having students use the iMovie app to remix the video with their own narration and captions. My hope is that the new updates in the Gaggle app will allow teachers and students to do the same!

Of course, a full video review is coming soon!

App Review Part 1: Gaggle and WebDAV

Latest vlog post…

Rookie Infographic Maker

Working on my first Infographic for a leadership presentation. How can I make this better?


Download Videos to Your iPad with iCabMobile!

Safe Student Blogging via iPad

We love KidBlog.org because it offers a safe way for students to blog, allowing teachers to maintain control over posted content. Unfortunately, KidBlog does not have an app for students using iPads in school. However, after doing a little research, I discovered that students can use the WordPress app to publish to KidBlog!

You can download the FREE WordPress app here: WordPress - Automattic

I enjoy using the WordPress iOS app when I am on the go and cannot create blog posts on the web. I can use my iPad or iPhone to moderate comments, create or edit posts and pages, and add images or videos with ease. Now students can do the same! Follow the steps below to learn how your students can blog safely from any iOS device…

1. Go to www.kidblog.org and sign up for a free Teacher account:

2. After signing up with your teacher account, log in and click on Control Panel

3. Click on the Users tab and then Add New Users (Jake shows you how to BULK upload here.)

4. Add a student user

5. Click on Add New User

6. Click on the USERS tab to view the list of student users in your class. NOTE: Sometimes if you use a generic login for students, KidBlog will scramble the ID and you’ll need that ID to log into WordPress. Notice how Student1’s KidBlog ID is actually student1140476. student1140476 is the username that Student1 will use to log into WordPress on the iPad. 

7. Click on the Settings tab and then be sure that  Enable native publishing via iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone is checked!


Next: Add the Blog to the WordPress App

1. Open the WordPress App and tap “Add Self-Hosted WordPress Blog”

2. Enter the student’s Blog URL, Username and Password.
The URL convention is: http://kidblog.org/YourClassName/author/ID/

3. Create a New Post

4. Add a Photo or Video to the Blog Post

Teachers can continue to moderate comments and posts at KidBlog.org!

iMovie for iPad: Themes, Transitions, Titles, Tunes and More!

I have created a tutorial showing how easy it is to go PRO with iMovie for iPad.

iMovie for iPad