A 180 TURNABOUT: The NYTimes' Matt Richtel spoke with educators from districts in Florida, Atlanta and Texas to check out what all the BYOT (or BYOD) fuss is about. And his report is, well, a bit of a switcheroo for those who have followed Richtel closely. In a marked turnaround from his May 2012 piece where devices were criticized for "widening the time-wasting gap," the teachers he spoke with this time were quite gung-ho about the benefits of mobile devices. They praised the Internet as "the great equalizer" and called those who opposed BYOT as folks who "don't understand how kids acquire knowledge." (A sign of the changing demographics, perhaps?) Richtel shared one interesting observation from Volusia County School District in Central Florida that may fly in the face of expectations, namely that there's "'an inverse relationship' between family income and the sophistication of their devices."
The one point of contention raised came from Stanford professor Roy Pea, who questioned whether teachers were "subverting curriculum to technology" by being forced to build lessons around different devices. And he raised an interesting question largely unaddressed in the piece: "Why are they so happy to have these devices when just a few years ago they didn't want them in the classroom?" Our guess: a broad shift in overall attitudes towards technology, driven by a renewed emphasis on providing teachers proper training and preparation. And closely related may be the fact that more younger teachers entering the workforce. (The National Center for Education Information estimates that the proportion of public school teachers with five or fewer years of teaching experience increased from 18 percent in 2005 to 26 percent in 2011.)