Is BYOD Right for You?

In this age of budget cuts and shortfalls, many schools are exploring Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. At first glance, it seems like a great solution to a problem, a way to implement one-to-one computing without the expense of buying computers for every student. While many educators are enthusiastic about BYOD, others object to such initiatives, citing both practical problems and philosophical disagreements.

The main reason for allowing students to bring their own devices, usually smartphones and tablets, rather than laptops, is to provide students with the benefits of being able to use technology for educational purposes both inside and outside of school. According to BYOD advocates, such a program provides students with ready access to computing devices, puts students at the center of the learning process, and encourages collaboration.

BYOD, however, also has detractors, such as Gary Stager. Two common objections are that, first, BYOD allows school districts to abdicate their responsibility for providing students access to technology, and, second, the use of personal devices highlights inequities among students.

Whatever objections some people may have, in these times of tighter and tighter budgets, BYOD will increasingly be an option for schools that want to integrate more technology into instruction. Taking time to discuss the following issues before implementing a BYOD program will increase the likelihood of success:

  • Develop a plan for providing devices to students who do not own their own.
  • Acceptable use policies are even more critical when districts have little or no control over students' personal devices. Guidelines to cover issues such as cyberbullying and the access of inappropriate content must be clearly described, and there must be consequences for violation . Read BYOD Acceptable Use Policy: BYOD in School  for more information. Check out some examples from Bishop O’Connell High School BYOD Policy and Booker T. Washington High School Bring Your Own Device
  • Teachers will need more professional development when students are using different kinds of devices than they do with traditional technology training. They will need to learn how to use platform neutral applications, such as Google Docs, in their instruction, as well as the idiosyncrasies of the different devices their students use.
  • Mobile devices are not powerful or convenient enough to address all students; technology needs. Teachers must take care not to limit student activities to those that can be accomplished with the simplest devices of students.

Read more about BYOD in schools.

Creating a Robust and Safe BYOD Program
Infrastructure guidelines for BYOD programs

5 Areas of Consideration for Developing a BYOD Policy for Your School or District
Nice list of practical suggestions for implementing BYOD

The BYOD Debate
A simple chart that spells out the points for and against BYOD in schools

In December 2015, Peggy Grant joined our extended network of alumni.