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Reflections from BectaX Pt 2: Gathering the learner voice (‘Sod this. We’ll do it ourselves’)

I’ve already written here about our involvement as a school in the BectaX event last month. In this second post I’d like to reflect on our reaction to the feeling that the schools weren’t as involved as we’d like, and what we did about it!

By lunchtime there was a growing feeling coming from the schools that our comments weren’t being responded to in the conference room. The organisers added a ten minute response session straight after lunch, but at the end of that we still felt that the views of the students needed to be better collated and fed into the day. To that end, we threw together a Google Form based around what we considered to be the key issues emerging from the conversation (as opposed to the five ‘big questions’ previously laid out by the organisers). We felt these were:

  1. Should we give open access to social networks in schools?
  2. Should schools provide open wifi
  3. Should we be allowed to bring in and use our own devices
  4. Should schools be responsible for providing mobile devices to students

We tweeted the form around and got 10 responses by the end of the session, and another 3 in the following hours.

Although we intended the form to be completed by each individual at the school (aware as we were that there were disagreements on these issues within the room) we probably didn’t make that very clear. We also added a ‘school name’ field after the form had been up for a few minutes as we had no idea who was responding. Thanks to our students, Westfield CTC, Tiverton High School and ‘SMS’ who replied, plus the others who did but before we added the school name field!

The results are given below as they arrived. I’ll leave them to speak for themselves, although I may come back to them in a future post!

1. Should we give open access to social networks in schools?
Open Social NetworksComments:

  • Trust us. but if we abuse it we lose it. teach us how to use them wisely
  • Website like Twitter which can be used for many different ways.
  • I think that this will restrict the student’s learning. The socialising websites interupts with the children’s learning as it makes their outward appearance much more important than who they really are.
  • Only to some social links twitter , you-tube , flickr sites that we know there are some educational content.
  • As long as the users can be restriced to that network and don’t get people from all over the world joining in.
  • In spare time in lessons i would much rather check my facebook than play games, but in school time who are you going to be able to talk to in facebook who’s not in your class.
  • A different website should be made for pupils and students, which integrates into websites such as Facebook and Twitter!
  • Yes, but only in conjunction with some explicit teaching and learning opportunities about responsibilities, safety etc.
  • Students already get distracted by the odd games site which is not blocked. Opening social networking sites would simply lead to a much higher level of distraction for students and therefore a lack of work completed whilst using the internet.
  • Perhaps though, in core IT lessons, or Year 11 students could be allowed – a more flexible blocking system, through which you block sites for individual users (students) or filters could be turned on/off in certain rooms at different times during the day.

2. Should schools provide open wifi?

Open WiFi?
Comments:

  • We’d need better broadband connections in schools.
  • Yes as long as it’s used properly.
  • As a wifi hotspot is the best way I think.
  • Have a public hot-spot in a central area e.g our quad, and library
  • depends if pupils really want to bring laptops is it better though. laptops can be damaged (crunchy nut advert)laptop was sacrified for the crunchy nut cereal
  • Yes, mobile devices should be encouraged to be used, such as digital planners.
  • If students have wifi enabled personal devices we should encourage them to use them for learning. We need to promote an atmosphere of trust and personal responsibility.
  • Research in lessons would benefit greatly – no longer would a teacher need to rely on booking a computer room, students could access all the information needed for a project from their phones or personal laptops brought from home. That would also mean more classes could work online at any point because students would be asked to bring their personal system (whether that be an iPhone or a laptop) to use in a lesson next week and those that don’t have a personal device could use a school laptop, of which are school has about 30 currently.

3. Should we be allowed to bring in and use our own devices?

Own devices?
Comments:

  • It saves the school  money and the tech we use in school is pretty rubbish and out of date compared to what we get at home.even if some people dont have any devices the school can equip them with better quality tech because they wont need to provide everyone with them.
  • Yes but the school shouldn’t have to be responsible for our own devices seeing as it’s not the schools it’s our responsibility!
  • If a student brings it own devices to school, they will look after it more as its their device.
  • Yes as I use my net-book in class and it helps me spell and do my work really eficently
  • As long as the person admits responsibility for bringing the product and as well has what could happen to the product if not looked after carefully
  • Not everyone will have these devices and those who do will have different quality devices and marking work from different formats would be difficult. But those who do shouldn’t be held back or restricted because they can have these devices, in a races nobody’s held back for having low quality trainers, that’s a metaphor.
  • People should have an option if they want to use the provided technology or not!
  • Research in lessons would benefit greatly – no longer would a teacher need to rely on booking a computer room, students could access all the information needed for a project from their phones or personal laptops brought from home. That would also mean more classes could work online at any point because students would be asked to bring their personal system (whether that be an iPhone or a laptop) to use in a lesson next week and those that don’t have a personal device could use a school laptop, of which are school has about 30 currently.

4. Should schools be responsible for providing mobile devices to students?

Provide devices?
Comments:

  • I think that pupils should be able to bring their own devices in – But schools should also have a responsibility to provide them with devices – To allow a fair playing ground for all pupils.
  • Not mobile phones but something of that nature would be good.
  • They can mange the device and control how students use them
  • Depends if schools restricts the use of mobile phones in break times and lunch times and are strict about them when teachers take mobile phones off at the end of the day will the pupil have a phone to use.
  • Not a mobile phone, but something similar that would be kept in school.
  • They should be responsible to provide the software, but hardware should be provided by the pupil!
  • There needs to be as level a playing field as possible with regards provision. if students have their own devices, let’s make use of them. If not, it is our moral obligation to ensure that they are not discriminated against because of that, and to ensure that they are equally well equipped to engage with the kinds of learning opportunities.
  • No, it’s the students mobile device and therefore, like their uniform they should pay for it and own it themselves. However I do think schools should have a large stock, say in our school of 1200, perhaps 100 laptops at the ready would be enough to cater for the students in a lesson where they need internet access, but don’t own one themselves…
  • Perhaps though, if you could set up an efficient penalty system for not following the rules, the school could have a supply of laptops for the whole school, with which they could do their homework and school work on – they could take it home like a textbook and also use it at home. Then when Year 11 leave, the next Year 7s could have them.
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Dave Stacey

5 Comments

  1. Given that BectaX cost the British Tax Payer more than £250K (£1500 per delegate) do you think it was worthwhile?

    • Given your comment I take it you don’t (why the anonymity by the way?!)

      I think it’s too early to say, but it has the potential to have been very worthwhile, especially if it turns out to be the seeds from which a Becta replacement grows. Even if Becta had survived, I suspect it would have taken at least 6 months to find out if the event had been worthwhile as it was always supposed to the start of something, rather than the something itself.

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