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Presidential Fellow Seeks to Expand Use of Student-owned Mobile Devices in Classrooms

Nov. 1, 2017 -- About 70 percent of CNM students own personal devices such as laptops, tablets or smart phones. So why not let students take advantage of the devices they are familiar with and incorporate them into classroom instruction?
Presidential Fellow Seeks to Expand Use of Student-owned Mobile Devices in Classrooms

Nov 01, 2017

That’s what Presidential Fellow Anna Gilletly, an anatomy and physiology instructor, is investigating this year for CNM – the possibilities of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Her job this school year is to support and expand the use of student-owned mobile technology in the classroom.

“Students are already bringing these devices to campus,” she said. “We should take advantage of this fact. They like their devices and feel comfortable using them.”

Gilletly has been doing this in her own classrooms for the past three years. She would frequently divide her students into teams of six or seven, give them activities to perform on their devices and monitor their work in real time on an iPad.

If she sees that a group doesn’t “get it,” she provides those students with extra attention. If she notes that all the groups are working a problem correctly, she knows she doesn’t have to spend a lot of time on that subject. And if she determines all the groups appear to be struggling with a topic, she will give a classroom lecture for clarification.

Having the students use their own devices eliminates the need to be in a computer lab. Gilletly said she's had no problem with students being able to obtain a device. She makes a point on her syllabi that students need to bring a device to class. If they don't already have a device and can’t afford one, they can check out devices for free from the CNM Libraries or use financial aid to buy one.

“I don’t ever want a student to feel like they can’t complete my course because they can’t afford a device,” she said. “It may take some creative troubleshooting, but I’m optimistic that there are ways to make sure all students can participate in all classes.”

Starting in the 2018 Spring Term and continuing through the 2019 Spring Term, she will be coordinating a BYOD pilot project. In this pilot, students bring their personal mobile devices to every class session in the normal assigned classroom. Types of activities using their devices might include quizzing through Blackboard, clicker-style quizzes through a web service, using and annotating e-books or pdfs in class, and using Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online for essay writing.

How long the devices are used during a class might vary from five minutes to the entire class session. They could be used every class session, once a week, or only a few times during the term.

As for faculty time commitment, Gilletly estimates it could be as little as an hour of additional time to modify syllabus requirements and send out emails to students notifying them of technology requirements. For faculty already using CNM computer labs for some class sessions, those lessons would seamlessly transfer to student BYOD with relative ease.

She says there are multiple reasons for using BYOD in the classroom. Some include sustainability (less demand on computer labs), reducing printing and book costs for students, easily tracking assignments and quizzes, providing immediate feedback to students, and preparing students for the technological demands of local, national and international job markets.

“Tech isn’t a requirement of good teaching, but it can enhance classroom learning in fun and exciting ways that adapts to how our students are now learning and living,” Gilletly said. “Going BYOD takes our students and their soft skills beyond the basics.”