Hazel Green pilots county’s blended learning, BYOT initiatives
HAZEL GREEN – Hazel Green High School is piloting blended learning and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiatives for Madison County Schools.
Seniors in a blended learning class meet in person two days weekly. During the other three ‘e-learning’ days, students can opt to work on assignments from home.
Teachers have tried Edmodo, similar to Facebook, Haiku, Schoology and Canvas applications. Most programs document when and how long a students logs in.
When a classmate was sick, students in a group project solved the problem themselves with FaceTime. “They found the solution that most closely re-created the classroom experience the sick student was missing,” teacher lead Cameron Case said.
The BYOT trial resulted from lack of funding. “There simply isn’t money to provide 1-1 devices as other nearby systems have done,” Case said. Also, proponents believe BYOT gives students “a more personalized experience.”
“Instead of asking students to learn the ins-and-outs of device X, students are learning on devices they’re already comfortable using,” Case said. Some use a phone, others a tablet or laptop.
The BYOT trial is open to any teacher comfortable with the idea … at any extent. Case’s English classes and Dawn Cole’s chemistry classes began the pilot.
“We made a concerted effort to use student-owned technology daily to help ease the learning curve for other teachers,” Case said. The pilot ran from September 2013 to March 2014.
“Some have jumped in feet first; others are wading in slowly. Teachers (need to) be comfortable with the technology” for purposeful use, Case said.
Tools include Google Docs, a cloud-based program suite similar to Microsoft Office, along with Docs (like Word), Sheets (like Excel), a calendar, Gmail and Google Drive (cloud-based file storage).
Students “love” the BYOT initiative and are gaining self-discipline and college-like exposure. “Teachers are probably more of a mixed bag. Change is often uncomfortable. For those who have tried it, BYOT becomes one of the most engaging tools at a teacher’s disposal,” Case said.
Hazel Green and county administrators are continuing their ongoing evaluation.