Should we allow it or prohibit it? When it comes to using electronic devices in the classroom, the question that arose some years ago was a debate between the two. However, a third option exists. We can use this opportunity to teach children how to use technology appropriately.
The Academia Cotopaxi implemented the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) learning method in its classrooms two years ago. This is an educational policy for the use of electronic devices (tablets, laptop/notebook computers, etc.) in the classroom to facilitate learning and the development of computer skills that may be applied in a cross-disciplinary manner to all academic subjects.
Here at Academia Cotopaxi, we make use of information technology to inspire innovation, ignite our imaginations, encourage interdisciplinary perception, and ensure the formation of responsible digital citizens, providing them with a very important learning experience in the process. We imagine a world in which everyone models responsible, thoughtful and balanced use of information technology in academic, personal and global contexts.
To further explain this trend that is currently gaining strength all around the world, we have interviewed David Muñiz, our Director of Information Technology here at Academia Cotopaxi.
What are the basic premises laid out for students to ensure proper use of technology in the classroom?
First, electronic devices should not be used outside of the classroom, and second, equipment should be turned off and put away until the teacher has indicated that it is time to use it. Another rule is that students may listen to music but it may not be online, they should use headphones, and it shouldn’t distract other students. We also ask them to bring their devices from home fully charged; and finally, we have developed policies for the responsible use of the internet and information technology, meaning that we encourage students to be careful about the websites that they are visiting and teach them how to handle their personal information.
The school’s infrastructure and technology network play an important role at the time of providing opportunities for improvement and transforming the students’ learning experience. To ensure that such resources are always available, it is imperative that all members of the community (teachers, personnel, students, families, guests and visitors) use technology in a manner that is consistent with the school’s fundamental mission and values.
Which subjects does BYOD apply to?
To all of them! The idea is to integrate information technology into all areas of learning. This allows IT classes to teach more advanced material and not just how to use programs.
Information Technology skills are not only an essential part of academic careers and successful professions, but also, they are used to learn different activities within the context of education and not in an isolated IT class or computer lab. Students better understand tables and graphs and how to create them, using an excel spreadsheet, whether they are working on a class science or math project. Students better understand how to run a blog and word processing tools when they write for a literature class, and so on and so forth. This does not rule out the need for a class focused specifically on IT, but it is important to re-imagine the classroom as a place where students can acquire a deeper understanding about technology, such as for example: coding, software development and robotics.
What is the goal that the school seeks to reach by allowing students to use electronic devices?
What we sometimes see is that kids are using their electronic devices as a toy and so they are underusing them. What we are seeking is to teach them that it’s okay for them to see electronic devices as something new and entertaining, but at the same time, we are going to promote all the resources that they have access to so that they can see and appreciate all of the wondrous things that they can do, to apply them to learning and therefore, they should learn to use them correctly. We want kids to experiment in a controlled environment such as the classroom.
What type of educational applications do you recommend?
What we’re interested in are applications that kids can use to produce and demonstrate what they learn with multimedia resources, as opposed to only making use of educational games.
Finally, what would you recommend that parents do so that their children can benefit from the positive and educational aspects of information technology at home?
The first thing to understand is that it is very important to set limits for the use of electronic devices, meaning that schedules and specific areas to be designated for their use. It is also necessary for parents to know that they are an example and role model for their children and they should therefore establish certain times as technology-free times, which could be for half an hour or an hour. It is necessary and important to have moments like these.
David Muniz, Head of the Academia Cotopaxi Information Technology Department since 2014, holds a Master’s degree in Educational and Information Technology.