“WiFi’s coming, so get used to it!”

I have compiled a (hopefully) useful resource for teachers who will increasingly encounter student personal devices in their classrooms. WiFi is coming to our building soon (not soon enough?) so here are several things to consider to make your transition to a wired environment more enjoyable. Instead of trying to prevent our learners from bringing their personal devices into our classrooms, we will take a pro-active approach and encourage mindful use of technologies when they promote learning and make lessons more engaging.


1. DO: Set clear expectations early in the year. A good idea might be to include this in your course outline. Reinforce expectations throughout the year as you would any other behaviour as the need arises. Individual teachers will have varying expectations regarding devices in their classroom and the students are expected to adapt to these expectations as they move from one teacher to the next during the day. Do discuss appropriate and inappropriate behaviour at the outset.

Tip#1: At the beginning of class, have students place their devices (phones, e-readers, ipods, laptops and tablet) in front of them, face-down on their desk. Expectations are that the ringers are turned off and that they are not to play games in class at any time. During lectures and presentations, the devices stay in this position.

2. DO: Take advantage of the fact that the students are willing to bring their own devices. See it as another learning resource. Engage your learners by having them use the devices for learning.

Tip#2: Many mobile devices have video and camera capabilities. Use the devices to record video and images and to create skits for class; to create slideshows (PechaKuchas!) to show their learning.

3. DO: Save paper and instructional time by allowing the students to use the devices to record information or research.

Tip#3: Run out of handouts? Student forgot their handout at home? Or don’t want to run off handouts? Grab your copy, ask the student to bring out their device and take a picture of it. It’s fast and easy. They can annotate the handout in an app if they make it into a pdf (eg. Camscanner & Notability apps)

4. DO: Use the devices to share and collaborate; engaging your learners to publish their work (let them take pics of their work and Tweet it @uhillsecondary, #uhillsec)

Tip#4: Google Docs: students can share documents (group work!), and annotate documents in the clouds (they need a gmail account) and can access the work through their personal devices. Teachers can collect work paperlessly and “mark” up the docs (and maintain a digital copy). Students cannot peek at their peers’ marks and ask “what did you get?” because everything is privately done through gmail and docs.

5. DO: Have fun with them. Review for tests, brainstorm in mindmapping apps, engage through games, polls and useful apps.

Tip#5: Use the students’ personal devices to take quizzes and polls in real time. All the data can be either sent to you via your email account or it can be formative; an exit ticket. (Students sign into your Socrative virtual “classroom” [socrative.com] accessed by computer or across devices that can access the internet). Polls provide immediate feedback about learning to the teacher and are an anonymous and efficient AFL strategy

6. DO: Allow students to use their devices to support their learning style

Tip#6: Students with written output issues can record important lectures and take “notes” by recording segments of the discussion through their device. There are speech-to-text and text-to-speech apps out there for this.

7. DO: Contact your VSB Learning Technologies Team (I’m here for you!) should you need more support and ideas. We’ll help make it work for you.


About Cakebrain

A Vancouver English teacher preoccupied with cake... Reflecting about my learning as an educator. I am currently teaching English part time and also working part time at the Vancouver Board of Education as a Learning Technologies Mentor. This blog also contains an archive of my Concept Papers and Inquiry and Coaching Reflections (ICR) from my grad studies program at VIU (CIEL) You can follow my food and edu-tweets @Cakebrain My Class Wiki: http://uhillenglish.wikispaces.com My food blog is http://cakeonthebrain.blogspot.com
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