#dontfeartheBYOD! I used this hashtag recently when tweeting about a classroom activity that was working particularly well. Students were highly engaged and motivated, the BYOD gods were on my side, it was textbook (okay, that doesn’t seem right) BYOD.

The reluctance to get onboard with BYOD seems to stem from a teacher’s fear of letting go. Not only letting go of the teacher centred approach they take comfort in, but also letting go of the “good old days” of teaching. Get over it. Your students would rather take a picture of your PowerPoint slide than spend 10 minutes writing it down – and why not?

I know some teachers will insist that students “retain more information” when they write the note out themselves in their notebook. Sure, I can agree to that, but is that our goal? Wouldn’t that 10 minutes be better served engaging in critical analysis of whatever was on that slide? Wouldn’t a discussion allow for a much deeper understanding of the concept? It’s not being lazy, it’s being smart!

We shouldn’t fear students using their own devices. We shouldn’t be afraid of students learning on their own or connecting to information or people outside of the four walls of our classrooms. They are (for the most part) smart phone and tablet experts – so why not allow them to utilize their expertise? And if they aren’t experts, then let’s help them get there. Asking the students to put their devices away, devices that have huge potential to foster student learning and engagement, is counter-productive.

At a conference I recently attended George Couros said:

“When we ask students to put away their devices, what we are telling them is that we do not trust them.”

I couldn’t agree more. When we ask them to put their devices away we are telling them that we do not value the way they learn and that they cannot be trusted to learn on their own.

However, we also need to help students better utilize their devices. It’s our responsibility to teach them how to organize information, how to communicate that information responsibly and effectively, and, above all, how to use their device to connect to and learn from the global community.

Get those devices out of the backpacks and into the student’s hands.