This post was originally published on my old blog (September, 2013). I think the content is still worthy of conversation:
As we move towards a BYOD program in our district, one of the questions that comes up is, “How can I ask students to do something if they all have different tools for the job?” It’s interesting how we assume every student must have the same tool.
I watch Project Runway every week (I know, guilty pleasure!), and each week the designers are given a task to complete. Last week they had to design performance wear. After the task is described, designers are given 30 minutes to sketch an idea – some use an HP tablet, while others use colored pencils and a sketchpad. They are then given access to fabrics, but not the same fabric of course. Each designer chooses a fabric that matches their vision for the task. Once they have their materials, each designer must come up with a pattern, and then create their look.
At no point in this challenge are designers lined up at their cutting tables and given a pattern which they all must cut out together. At no point in the challenge are designers encouraged to use the same fabric, or the same hidden slip stitch. Each designer must find their own way to meet the demands of the task laid out before them. It’s 21st century skills in action – critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, and yes, sometimes even collaboration!
So why do we make the assumption that our students cannot function unless all doing the same thing, at the same time, the same way? I challenge you to, in the words of Tim Gunn, “Make it work!” and give students the freedom to be learning designers.