Technology Limitations

I came across this news story the other week, Student Without WiFi Falls Behind in School. This sparked my interest for multiple reasons: 1) curious about the circumstances behind this story, 2) my concern for student success, and 3) the student in the news story attends my former high school.

Things have certainly changed since I graduated from high school. And that was less than 10 years ago! I’m ecstatic that high schools are using eBooks and technology in the classroom, but what happens when these students graduate? In the case of this high school student, the school district provides equipment for the student. This is usually not the case at the college level.

Students like the one featured in the news story are currently in our college classes. Some have the technology readily available outside of the classroom and some have to make accommodations to complete their required work. Instructors need to take this into consideration when incorporating technology into teaching.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies also factor into incorporating technology into teaching. Mobile devices come in various sizes and platforms. There are wonderful apps out there for both teacher and student, but some only work on one type of device/platform instead of being device agnostic. For example, Blackboard has a free Bb Grader app for instructors to use, but currently it is only available on iPad. Android and other device users cannot take advantage of the Bb Grader app. On the flip side, Blackboard has a Bb Student app that is available for iOS, Android, and Windows devices, though iPad users have to search for the app under iPhone apps. As a best practice, I wouldn’t require students to use an app if their device doesn’t support it. That would negate the BYOD framework.

Before incorporating too much technology into your teaching, take the time to consider what is reasonable to ask of students. My rule of thumb is if it’s available on campus, like software in an open computer lab, then it’s reasonable to ask students to use it. Keep in mind, just because it’s available for students to use, it doesn’t mean the students know how to use it. Best practice is, if you want them to use, show them how to use it the way you want them to use it.

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