I’m a big fan of bringing your own device to school (BYOD). But I’m an even bigger promoter of letting students and teachers use whatever apps and platforms they choose.
There is little, and increasingly less, need for stadardization of hard- and software in classrooms. In principle, it seems to me, telling my Grade 11 TOK class they have to do their work in OneNote is like telling them they have to all write using a Hilroy HB pencil and 20# stock. Why? I’m not evaluatong their ability to work OneNote. Last year, I ran THINK Global School, a mobile global high school that takes students to live and study in three different internatioinal cities each year. By second term, when my students would ask “What do we need to bring to class, Mr. O-C?” and I would glibly answer something like “You’ll be writing about 500 words today.” It was up to them what they brought along–iPhone, iPad, MacBook Pro–and up to them to choose which apps they used. My only requirement was that they submit their work electronically. Now and again, one or two would even handwrite their work, shoot a picture and submit that. And it worked. Seamlessly.
The future of learning lies in this direction. And the future of educational technology lies in developing services that get diverse tools to talk to each other, seamlessly. ConnectYard looks like the kickoff. The service lets users connect through their preferred media: a teacher can send an email and it’s delivered in whatever format the student prefers–through Facebook, for instance. And vice versa.