For my own reference in the future, and anyone who is interested – this was my submission for Assignment 1 for ESC515. It deals with 2 critical affordances of BYOD and two of the common concerns. After that is a quick summary of 5 online tools. I examine how each might be used to deliver a particular unit of work in my school, and how each fits with some of the learning theories of 21st century learning:


flickr photo by WolfVision vSolution

shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license


Position Paper

In higher educational environments, the rapid uptake of personal smart devices by students means that a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) strategy, which is when students employ personally owned devices to support their studies, is a real possibility. In successive reports by both the DEAG (Digital Education Advisory Group) and NMC (New Media Consortium) (Alexander et al., 2013; Johnson et al., 2015; 2016), BYOD is cited as an important development likely to be adopted across the sector in the near future. This position paper will examine two of the key affordances and two of the major challenges for BYOD programs, and will argue that, with sound pedagogy, and best practice support programs, BYOD represents an excellent opportunity for supporting and extending 21st century learning in higher education.

The first and perhaps most fundamental advantage of integrating technology into tertiary teaching is that it allows us to extend and develop digital and information literacies through the digital media that are becoming ever more critical to academic and civic life, and for 21st century careers (Haste, 2009; Starkey, 2011; Alexander et al., 2013). According to ACRL, as a result of proliferating online information resources, individuals are now faced with “diverse, abundant information choices… in their academic studies, in the workplace, and in their personal lives” (2015), and, with so much of modern life now occurring online, it is argued that students need to be explicitly taught how to apply skills such as critical thinking and the filtering and management of information to the digital world (Bawden, 2008; Beetham & Oliver, 2010). Despite this, there is considerable evidence that the majority of students are reaching university with underdeveloped information and digital literacy skills (Egan & Katz, 2007; Gross & Latham, 20072012). According to Roblyer & Doering, this gap in critical literacies forms “a powerful rationale for why technology must become as commonplace in education as it is in other areas of society” (2014, p.36).

A second critical affordance of BYO devices is their facility for promoting the more student-centred, collaborative and constructivist (Cobb, 2005) approaches to teaching that are now viewed as ‘good’ pedagogy (De Freitas & Conole, 2010, p.19). Mobile digital technology can play a central role in recent innovative practices such as connectivism (Downes, 2008), and connected learning  (Ito et al., 2013), since they allow users to conveniently connect, not just to each other, but to a wider community and networks of knowledge on the Web. They are therefore particularly suited for scaffolded and guided inquiry (Hmelo-Silver, Duncan & Chinn, 2007), and facilitating collaborative, project-based learning (McGrath, 2004), allowing both real-time, synchronous collaboration on web documents and projects through cloud-based platforms, and asynchronous, any time, any place interactions. In class, BYOD allows for one-to-one and one-to-all communication, and instant response to concept-checking questions and opinion polls on a class wide basis (Chen, Seilhamer, Bennett, & Bauer, 2015). By using instructional design models such as M-COPE (Dennen & Hao, 2014), T-PACK (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p.68) or SAMR (Romrell, Kidder & Wood, 2014), teachers can ensure that BYOD is being deployed in ways that significantly enhance learning, rather than simply replacing other methods, and that sound pedagogy is being employed. In this manner, other affordances can also be activated, such as more multi-modal delivery that support varied student needs and preferences, substantially improved tracking of student progress, increased learner engagement, increased reflection and deeper learning, and greater self-determination and ownership of the learning (Conole & Dyke, 2004).

On the other hand, this facility for providing connectivity also presents educators and students with significant challenges. For example, studies have shown that online communication can provide new and effective channels for cyberbullying and harassment at university (Chapell et al., 2004; Walker, Sockman & Koehn, 2011). These channels can also expose unwary users to malware, viruses, hackers and scammers, as well as raising issues of privacy and the digital footprints we all leave when using the web (Roblyer & Doering, 2014, p.24). These problems can cause serious difficulties for students and teachers, but rather than causing us to rethink the introduction of BYOD in education, it is argued that it further underlines the critical necessity for improving digital and information literacies to help deal with or avoid these issues.

The second major concern is that of equity and access. Socio-economic status, gender, age, or special needs, for example, have been shown to affect access and exposure to technology, which, in turn, influences skills and attitudes (Jeffrey et al., 2011). Major studies in US universities placed smart device ownership at between 86% and 96% in 2013 and 2014, but aid programs to address the remaining gap still need to be implemented (Dahlstrom & Bichsel, 2014; Chen, Seilhamer, Bennett, & Bauer, 2015). Skills and attitudes can also be addressed by applying best practices for BYOD such as peer tutoring and faculty training programs, as well as well-managed social media and interactive online content providing academic and technology support (González & Rolón, 2016). Access issues for special needs students are always a concern as well, but assistive and adaptive technology suitable for mobile devices, increased collaboration, and new practices such as the flipped classroom (Bishop & Verleger, 2013), may mean that BYOD “can potentially lead to enhanced inclusion in mainstream educational settings where traditional assistive technologies continue to leave students excluded” (Hayhoe, 2015, p.8).

In conclusion, by implementing best practice programs for student support and staff training, BYOD can be an effective tool in strengthening digital and information literacies, and helping overcome equity and special needs issues. Furthermore, by employing instructional design models such as M-COPE, TPACK, or SAMR, and utilising sound pedagogy such as guided inquiry, collaborative, connected and project-based learning. It is my position that BYOD can be a huge aide in supporting 21st century learning in tertiary education.


Unit of Work

This unit of work, titled ‘Relative Clauses’ is aimed at adult international students enrolled in University of Tasmania’s ‘Access (English Program) 6’ (see here for details).

It consolidates student understanding of the ‘relative clause’, which is one of the most fundamental complex sentence types, and underlies an understanding of many other complex structures taught subsequently. (An overview with examples can be found here). It addresses Intended Learning Objective 1 (ILO1):

“Produce sentences using general and academic vocabulary in written and spoken contexts.”.

It will be delivered in 4, 2-hour sessions over the 5-week duration of the course, assessed formatively through various activities including a short film, voice recording and written work (as outlined in Resources), and summatively in a final written test (see an example here), and a final speaking test (a presentation). In both cases the grammatical structure is a central element of the following marking criteria:

“Use a mix of grammar structures and sentence types (simple and complex) accurately. Make some errors… but they do not affect communication.” (Marking criteria 6: Description for ‘pass’ (50%-59%)

Feedback is given for formative assessments through Edmodo, as outlined below, and in the final tests in a one-on-one interview with students.


YouTube [(

As one of the most familiar and ubiquitous places to find and upload video, YouTube will be one of the first resources used by the students. In the spirit of guided inquiry (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012) and discovery learning (Roblyer & Doering, p.57, 2013) students will be asked to conduct research into ‘what is a relative clause?’ by searching for and finding a ‘good’ video on the subject on YouTube (there are hundreds). To ensure that all students are familiar with the concepts and practice of searching YouTube, this research will be initiated in the classroom on mobile devices, and guided by several specific questions to which students need to find answers. It will then be completed outside class to retain the benefits of a flipped classroom (i.e. input and individual work occurs mostly outside class, leaving class time for collaborative and consolidative work; see Bishop & Verleger, 2013). By introducing the concept in this way, it is hoped it will foster ownership, as well a deeper understanding of the learning (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012).  The following day, students in groups will be asked to watch and vote on which of the suggested videos is the best, adding a constructivist (Cobb, 2005), and collaborative element to the initial individual work. The use of guided, peer-reviewed inquiry also employs connectivist principles of fostering knowledge networks and the ability to locate and share answers to questions within the local and wider online community (Siemans, 2004).


Edmodo ( )

In order to create a collaborative community for the class, and to support a blended (Conole, 2012), and flipped (Bishop & Verleger, 2013) classroom,  an online ‘classroom’ will be established using Edmodo. Again, this is underpinned by constructivist and connectivist principles (Cobb, 2005; Siemans, 2004). The YouTube videos discovered in the previous activity, for example, would be posted, commented on, and evaluated here by both teacher and students. In addition, a behaviourist, directed learning (Roblyer & Doering, 2013) element is supported through multi-choice quizzes, which, again, can be delivered in class-time or outside class. This allows for concept-checking questions and poll-taking on an individual basis, allowing monitoring of the students actual and perceived level of understanding throughout the course.


Kahoot (

With input and initial learning occurring mostly outside of class through self-discovered or teacher-directed materials, it is good practice to check students understanding in class, and to allow them to compare their own understanding to that of classmates (Bishop & Verleger, 2013). In this unit of work, this would be achieved through online quiz platforms such as Kahoot, which have the advantage of being visually appealing and have social and competitive aspects that improve motivation and engagement (Turkay et al., 2014). Quizzes also need not be created by the teacher, with students collaborating in groups to produce quizzes that can then be used and evaluated in class. This allows for further application and consolidation of the learning in a student-centred and socially constructed manner. The quiz website also allows for a ‘report’ to be downloaded so that student progress can be conveniently monitored and tracked on an individual basis, allowing for intervention or support where needed.


Quizlet (

Quizlet, like other quiz platforms, allows for the social construction of learning support materials by students as well as by the teacher. Being the digital equivalent of card-based ‘flashcards’, Quizlet takes this concept further by articulating these memorisation aides into various games, allowing for greater variety of tasks and therefore more enjoyment and engagement. This web-tool would also be used in the unit to track and monitor student use of flashcard sets outside of class, allowing teachers to monitor, encourage and support where necessary. Primarily suited for mobile learning individually and outside class, the introduction of the new Quizlet ‘Live’ activity allows for in-class groups of 6 or more students to work collaboratively to answer questions (see an example here), once again facilitating socially constructed and negotiated learning (Downes, 2008).


Nearpod (

Nearpod is an online presentation tool which allows a ‘slideshow’ to be augmented with online materials such as video, websites, quizzes and polls. Although essentially a behaviourist, directed learning tool, it allows a passive PowerPoint style presentation to be evolved into something much more interactive and potentially constructivist and collaborative if students watch and interact in small groups or pairs. It can be delivered either synchronously, or asynchronously; at student pace, allowing for further tailoring to student levels and understandings. Nearpod would be used to review and consolidate important concepts introduced through out-of-class extension materials.


Voicethread  (

Voicethread allows teachers to post ‘talking points’, such as a photograph and the question “describe where you live (make sure you use at least 2 relative clauses)”. The students would then post video or audio answers to the question using the recording features of their phone or tablet. These can be endlessly commented on or added to by students or teachers. This activity would be done, first as a class activity in pairs or small groups, and again as an asynchronous activity at home. This allows students to apply and practice the grammatical structure in a realistic context, while still allowing for a more student-paced delivery, with students able to polish and re-record initial attempts until satisfied they have a product they are ready to share. Still very much a constructed learning task, it also has the ‘authentic’ and ‘real world’ elements so important in connected learning pedagogy (Ito et al., 2013).


Explain Everything (

Explain Everything is another method of creating digital ‘white-board’ presentations with interactive elements, but the final product is more of a ‘stand-alone’ video explanation with clickable links to websites or YouTube videos. In this unit, we would create a project-based learning opportunity (McGrath, 2004), with students collaborating in groups to create a video explanation of the main learning points and features of relative clauses. The students will need to conduct guided inquiry in a socially-constructed and negotiated process (Kuhlthau, Maniotes & Caspari, 2012) in order to answer a number of questions posed by the teacher. The final product would include links to the previous Voicethread and YouTube video work.


Video Creation/Editing Applications:

PowerDirector ( cyberlink.powerdirector)

Splice (

Most students with smart devices will have some form of video editing application, and if not, there are many free ones available (such as those above). Students will be placed in groups and asked to script (posting this using Edmodo or Voice Thread for editing and error correction) and then film a short conversation between two or three people that includes several examples of relative clause use. (A video with something similar can be found here.) Again, this would allow for a socially constructed, project-based review and reflection on the learning, and would involve a situated learning, authentic context apporopriate for connected learning (Ito, 2013). The videos would be posted to YouTube with links posted on Edmodo, and students asked to vote on the best ones. This project would be articulated over several weeks, and the final product would provide an end-point for the unit of work.


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