Collaboration, Connectivity and Comfort oh my,
Collaboration, Connectivity and Comfort OH MY!

by Johanna Wilkins Bennett, Professional Learning and Innovation Specialist at Expanding Learning Horizons.

As Dorothy skipped enthusiastically down the Yellow Brick Road to start her unexpected journey to the Emerald City, the unknown and the enormity of the task she was to undertake began to impact on her decision making.

Scarecrow in or Scarecrow out? The left fork in the road or the right? Detour to oil the Tin Man or keep to the path? Fear of going through the poppy field and what may happen? Or fear of staying on the path and possibly facing the Wicked Witch of the West?

With such decisions unwavering bravado and wide eyed enthusiasm begins to falter…… As Dorothy and her cohort begin to chant to bolster their reserves and subside their angst, so too can we be reminded of three key actions when implementing BYOD programs.

Collaboration, Connectivity and Comfort oh my, Collaboration, Connectivity and Comfort OH MY!

As Dorothy demonstrated, you cannot do it alone! Collaboration and sharing the journey is an important first step in the implementation of any BYOD program. Assessing the readiness of your three key stakeholders in staff, students and parents is vital in determining necessary next steps in the goal setting process. Data is valuable. Knowing how your teams feels can determine the ease of which your transition at key forks in the road on your implementation journey. Be open, you may not like what you hear, and your choice path may need to alter to accommodate what you learn, but isn’t that what journeying is all about? Your relationship building is as important as the end result, firm planning, research and analysis and reworking fixed ideas are sound first steps.

This will lead you to your Tin Man - connectivity. The world has Wi-Fi issues, this is the endless loop of need we all live in. We always want something to load quicker, connect faster and process better. Connectivity in the classroom is as precious as that Yellow Brick road, and in timed learning environments the urgency for all of these actions to occur simultaneously across hundreds of devices is a must. While we are all aware of the technical requirements needed to undertake such a task, there always seems to be a presumption that someone has actually checked. School readiness in all infrastructure aspects needs time. Not only in the obvious needs of connection and seamless delivery but also the astute management of the ever- growing body of digital resources that will be used and created by students and staff. Flexibility and storage are ever growing considerations in BYOD. Think of it like the Tin Man’s squirt of oil… a necessity to keep moving.

While Dorothy and her wandering gang progressed in their strategic planning, not all members of her party felt assured by her leadership. Comfort and reassurance that all will be well despite setbacks is what staff need to hear. However, convincing your Cowardly lions to have the courage can be a difficult task. Dorothy had the right idea; she led from a YES AND perspective. We know that staff and students alike will have differing levels of skill sets. Communities will have the enthusiastic early adopters, ready to immerse their teaching and learning in every foreseeable tooling available, while other will resist change with sound rebuke and logic. Considering a yes and approach tends to lead towards a natural and comfortable integration for all. Support your early adopters, give them some space to explore, trial and test, allow their enthusiasm to infect others, give them a platform to share their discoveries, while working closely with your rebukers and not sure. We all know we work best when we are comfortable, and levels of comfort differ greatly.  Having models of pedagogy supported by technology integration ease these anxiety levels. The teaching and learning design needs to be integrated with the BYOD device. It is a simpatico relationship; one does not work without the other. It is the ruby reds on Dorothy’s feet.

We know getting to the Emerald City was tough, there were setbacks, detours and wicked pitfalls, in the end though appreciating the journey and the learning was upmost to Miss Gale moving forward, and doesn’t that make for a great story!