Just a few weeks ago one of my fifth grade Sunday school students proclaimed to the entire class, “I don’t want to leave this class when the new year starts!” I knew then that my BYOD (bring your own device) initiative was working.
In February I began encouraging my fourth and fifth grade students to bring their own mobile devices (iPods, iPads, iPhones, and Kindles) for use in Sunday school. Below are some of the lessons I learned.
First Steps to Implementing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
- Think about what you want to accomplish. What is your goal? My goal is to teach biblical concepts through the use of technology.
- Get approval from your pastor and Sunday school director. I am fortunate to have a very supportive church staff and this was an easy step for me.
- Establish a simple acceptable use policy. My students helped me create our electronic access class policy and it has worked well.
- Communicate with parents and get them on board. I require permission from parents for use of mobile devices in Sunday school.
BYOD Issues You Will Probably Have to Deal With
- Hardware access. Kids sometimes forget to charge their device in preparation for Sunday school or more rarely forget to bring their device. One child broke their device at home and no longer has access. Have kids share devices or have some extra devices for them to use. I allow kids to use my personal iPhone, iPad, and laptop if needed and award points for each time they bring their own device.
- Technical issues and different hardware/software platforms. I have a mixture of devices in my classroom including iPads, iPhones, iPods, and Kindles. You don’t have to be an expert but it helps to be somewhat familiar with both Apple and Android platforms. If I don’t know the answer, I always ask my students. Between all of us, we can usually figure it out.
- Reliable wireless access. Check your wi-fi access as soon as you arrive. If there are wi-fi problems, I troubleshoot immediately. Resetting the wireless router usually fixes the problem. If not, I find the church’s techie person, who is always willing to help.
- Password Protection. Kids can’t download apps on the fly because devices are password protected by parents. Plan ahead. I text parents the name of the app to download prior to Sunday. Some kids have their device password and download the app at the beginning of class.
- Finding free apps for use on both platforms. Free apps can usually be found for both Apple and Droid but it may take some searching. I download the apps and try them out before asking my students to download.
One parent stopped by my classroom recently to tell me their child is so excited about being in my Sunday school class because he will get to use his mobile device (apparently word travels fast). Another parent told me that their child excitedly looks forward to attending Sunday school each week. That’s proof enough for me to continue my BYOD initiative to teach kids about Jesus!