BYOD – an initiative worth taking

The Bring Your Own Device policy, or BYOD, was first introduced in the early 2010’s. The idea behind it is that students learn better when they are allowed to use their personal laptops, tablet PC’s and smartphones in the classroom. It was designed to address a few issues that hindered the use of technology for learning, and to help students feel more at home when they are at school.

Schools that have adopted this policy report that it is proving effective. Tony Pontes, Director of Education at Peel District School Board, is an avid advocate of BYOD, claiming that when implemented in an organized way it can make technology more accessible, promote cooperation in the classroom, and unleash the creative potential of students (PeelSchools, 2013).

There are numerous reasons to believe that more schools will be adopting the BYOD policy in the near future. First, and probably the most appealing to school boards, is the fact that it saves a lot of money: if students bring their own electronic devices to school, there is no need for the school to buy any. Secondly, students are more familiar with their own devices, which makes them easier to use. Also, they have full administrator rights to their laptops and smartphones. This allows students to install and update software freely without having to contact the school’s IT team. We all know how frustrating it can be not to be able to access a useful website simply because Java cannot be updated due to lack of admin privileges on a company-owned computer. And finally, many students own devices that are far more advanced that the ones owned by their schools, and for many teenagers, settling for a first-generation iPad is not a viable option.

There are, of course, some challenges that schools need to address if they are to implement BYOD. Perhaps the most serious of them is the problem of security. Students’ personal devices are almost impossible to monitor for IT specialists, which leads to all sorts of risks and dangers. For example, students can catch a virus on their own device and spread it onto school-owned computers through network connection. Another potential risk is that students who do not have tablet PC’s or laptops may feel disadvantaged or insecure.

However, in my practice I have not had any problems with students using their personal electronic devices in the classroom. Many students are more informed in the matters of technology than their teachers, so usually it is the latter who brighten the days of the IT staff with professional challenges. Students are usually experienced enough to know not to click on any suspicious links or answer strange emails. As far as inequality goes, even students from poor families now own smartphones with decent capabilities. In fact, these days children will prefer to wear old clothes so they parents can afford to buy them a good phone, so I do not really feel that this is going to much of a problem for schools looking to adopt BYOD.

All things considered, as a technology enthusiast, I am sure that we are bound to hear some very positive things about BYOD, and hopefully, more schools will be turning to this policy in the next few years.

References

PeelSchools. (2013, January, 23). Why BYOD? [Video file]. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7zHdGfN530

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4 thoughts on “BYOD – an initiative worth taking

  1. Hi Dostan,

    Thank you for an interesting post about BYOD policy. First of all, I like the way you are writing as it is well organized and easy to read. Another strength of your post is that you have listed not only the pluses of this policy but the drawbacks too.
    As a teacher of Global Perspectives I could assure that we do actually allow our students to bring their devices and laptops to school. The reason is that students are to write project works at school for about three months. When there are several GP lessons at the same time we experience the shortage of laptops. Moreover, it is easier for students to work with one laptop as they sometimes continue writing at home.

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  2. Dostan,

    this is a great policy to promote to schools, and I personally believe that smartphones can be used for good in classrooms if teachers know how to do that. However, in my school students are prohibited to bring their smartphones and tablets, and there are certain reasons behind this decision. Such regulation makes impossible introduction of BYOD policy to the school, and it also becomes difficult to bring other technology into the classroom. For example, a game-based online platform Kahoot that was actively used by teachers last year now can be a part of the lesson only if there are computers in a classroom.

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  3. Dostan, great post. Just to add to the ideas in the comments, I would add that students CAN use their devices at school effectively and responsibly, but only if there are clear guidelines in place, and expectations are clear. Students who use their devices for non-educational purposes are doing what we all do when we are not fully focused on what we’re doing. Perhaps schools could do more explicit training of responsible device use instead of implementing flat bans. Some some food for thought.

    5/5

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  4. Dear Dostan,
    I think that this issue of using students’ own tablets and gadgets at the lessons can be a little bit confusing causing not equal conditions as all families incomes are different. This situation on the one hand can lead to loss of motivation because all software have different set of functions, on the other hand they are enough familiar with their own gadgets’ IT possibilities.

    What do you think to what extent it will be possible to realize this approach in Kazakhstani learning environments at schools, especially in mainstream ones?

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