How can BYOD help developing inquiring minds?

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How can we encourage inquiring minds in an academic environment?
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) can be a useful tool to stimulate inquiry and encourage lifelong learning.
Teaching is not just transferring what teachers know, but helping students inquire and learn what nobody knows yet. We can help them stimulate their curiosity by involving them in real collaborative investigations:

  • - Ask them to search examples of different opinions, opposing or supporting ideas with arguments for defending pros and cons on a given topic. Let them organise and plan their participation in real debates on social media, presenting and defending their own opinions with evidence and reasoning.(Make sure you know the “community policy” related to children’s participation on the social network you choose).

  • - Promote students’ searches for images, statistical data or specific information that explains causes, consequences or timelines on a particular subject. Let them develop their digital identity by creating virtual roles, responsibilities and tasks in their work group.

  • - Propose tasks or short projects to present the basic, commonly accepted explanation of a scientific fact (on climate, biology, physics or astronomy, for example), and some other, non-recognised or marginal hypothesis that they found on the net. Let them negotiate, debate and define the criteria to identify qualitative information and trustworthy sources of knowledge.

    In 1-to-1 classes, students should be the active protagonists of their searching, planning and learning activities. They should be encouraged to organise their own teamwork to accomplish a task or a project. More than that, they should be led to real interaction on the net to develop their social capabilities and build their lifelong learning skills:

  • - Developing their digital identities with real communication strategies

  • - Creating their autonomous critical thinking mechanisms.

  • - Exploring transference techniques for bridging the gap between academic learning and real-life needs.

The decision to ask students to bring their own devices to class must be a collective one, taken together with the rest of the teachers: when the school accepts students’ personal communication devices for working in class, teaching and learning become part of the expanded, enriched culture of our digital age. It helps create trust and confidence, merging formal and informal learning, and developing inquiring attitudes in and out of school. There is no better way to get started than to create a BYOD network among the teachers!
If students are allowed to use their own digital learning tools in class, they will learn how to develop both habits and skills for accessing the net when they need to. Some of the subjects that students can practice when BYOD is allowed in the school include transferring abilities from classwork into daily experiences, self-protection on the net, respect for others’ privacy, distant social interaction, and international collaboration.

As soon as BYOD is embedded in school policy, attitudes can be transferred as much as skills. Whether they use smartphones, portables, or tablets, students can discover processes in class that mirror their own day-to-day situations: deciding to search instantly or not, postponing answers to arriving messages, modulating feedback (tone, register, vocabulary), or managing their time, are some of the real-life experiences they can reflect on in the classroom. Does this sound risky? Empowering freedom is always risky, but it’s worth it! Sometimes, a simple “classroom contract” is useful to avoid cyber-bullying and establish clear rules for the use of devices in the school!

Raising students’ learning autonomy, and promoting their participation in solving problems in the classroom, makes it possible to stimulate their inquiring mind and, eventually, their learning consciousness. By learning how to do this using their own digital tools, they can continue their personal investigations at home and use classroom time for active learning and practical implementation.

Ready to try? Why not start by inviting your colleagues to join our teachers’ community, here in Microsoft Partners in Learning, and ask them to develop their personal professional networks?

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