Pilot This

Whenever I suggest something new in a meeting, someone in the meeting always says, “Maybe we should run a pilot program?”.  This was no different when I first mentioned BYOD.

The problem is you cannot pilot BYOD. The main reason is that it will affect an entire section of campus all at once. For example, if you say grade nine is going BYOD as a pilot, then the WIFI for the entire high school will have to be ready for BYOD. You will be supporting grades ten to twleve with school owned resources, which is expensive, and investing in a massive infrastructure plan that you have not committed to using. How does that make any sense?

To avoid the discussion of a “pilot program” you need to connect your idea to ideas already running under full steam somewhere else.  The best case scenario is you find at least three examples in completely unrelated geographical areas with a varying degree of socio-economic factors.

Most ideas are not new. People shelter themselves away from what is happening at other schools and then assume they are some type of conquistador heading into a new frontier. Trust me, most of the time they are not.

If your opposition becomes defensive, make sure to hand them a nice copy of the case studies and a summary of findings. Now the only options left are: to dismiss these cases without reading them, which cannot happen; to read the cases and reconvene for another meeting later, which no one wants to do; or to acknowledge that the idea is well supported and achievable enough to move it forward.

Yes, you can phase BYOD in, but you need to have good reasons for doing so. Having some students on a BYOD program and others not causes an inequality that requires sound justification. Here are some reasons you can use to justify a phased approach:

  1. The school is large and many families are supporting multiple children. This means they would have to buy more equipment all at once, which could be difficult for some.
  2. The WIFI network needs upgrading in part of the campus solely occupied by a single division.
  3. There are contractual or legal issues in your location that require approval from a government body of some kind.
  4. Your accrediting body does not recognize BYOD as a method of meeting IT standards.
  5. Your teachers do not have any technology in their classrooms and will be unable to work with the students until this lack of resources has been planned for and has become part of the budget.

On my campus #1 and #2 were an issue. I wanted to start with  grades four to twelve, but I had to settle on eight to twelve for the initial group.

There was no reason to pilot anything because I had done the research and collected the data. I had information from numerous schools to guide me as well.

Normally people are trying to buy time out of fear of change. Although I understand the fear, it has no place when it comes to developing a great learning environment for students. As the main architect for the BYOD program I was always afraid of failure, but I kept moving forward.

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