BYOD, a story #BYOD4L

The BYOD4L collaboration has brought some amazing opportunities for networking and conversing with colleagues old and new. But what of the themes? The 5Cs of Connecting, Communicating, Curating, Collaborating, and Creating are all well and good but something seems out of place for me. Where’s the Context?

Here’s a story … today in the café a group of about 10 students took over a couple of tables, dumped their bags down, got out various examples of smart phones and tablets, and started to eat/drink their lunches. Whilst there was a little bit of chat and a little light banter, each of them was mostly using their own device and engrossed in their own connected world. For a loud group when they arrived it seemed strange they should all diverge into their own individual online world so quickly.

It was after about half an hour of this that there seemed to be a purpose to their activities. It turned out they had been given a task to do which required some element of using their own devices in a given time frame. So, here they sat searching, tweeting, blogging, and Facebook’ing their way through their lunch. 

I was intrigued so asked one of them what the task was that was taking all their time up. I’m sure there’s more to the task than what I was told but essentially they needed to find some background work to a theory for their module, and be ready to present it that afternoon. Not everyone would be asked to present, but they needed to be ready.

BYOD4L .. Isolation

What struck me about the activity, and possibly about the BYOD concept, is that has the power to be a powerfully isolating experience. What these students had was a possibly good task to particulate in and, whether by design or by omission, the students chose to (or felt that had to) work in isolation to their colleagues, despite the fact they were all in the same physical (and often digital) location. Was collaboration allowed, or just ignored? What of networking … whilst Facebook and Twitter were evident on their devices they were they connecting digitally instead of in reality (I asked, they weren’t)? What kind of experience were these students now getting, were they learning anything other than working and learning in isolation? Were the students acting in isolation because that’s how they wanted to, were they directed this way, are they happier to work in isolation, or were they unable to think outside of the instructions given?

I’d love to see the activity & instructions .. I might see if I can find one of them again and get clarity on their work.

Image source: Which one … by BMclvr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

  • Emmadw

    yes, I’ve noticed that with groups of students, we’ve now got in our student learning centre (I might go & take some photos later – possibly persuading a few students to pose) – some large screens so that they can hook their laptops into them & discuss something.

    A few years ago, though, I remember I was looking at online learning with some students, trying to get them to use discussion boards to discuss. As they rightly pointed out “we’re in the same room, it’s easier to talk” (I pointed out to them that it’s not always the case, that sometimes you might want to discuss with someone who’s not in the same location). Now how much that was the affordances of WebCT (we’re talking pre- Facebook, so the other online fora (phpBB etc., while differing from WebCT’s boards, it wasn’t the vast difference we have now between VLE’s discussion boards & Facebook’s affordances). I suspect now students wouldn’t think it so odd for me to ask them to use computers to communicate, even when they can see each other.

    • Thanks Emma. Arguments will continue, I’m sure, that any form of (enforced) technology will increase isolation or a feeling of isolation but, if used and implemented appropriately, it could enable a closer and more worthwhile engagement.

      If we’re all about the student experience, and ‘enhancing the learning experience’ then there are times when technology can be used to bring this about, just as the opposite is true.

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