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At a conference last fall I heard how businesses are implementing bring your own device (BYOD) policies as they employ a new (tech) generation of learners. The presenter talked about the benefits of BYOD to the business and to employees, options for securing data and company intellectual property including figuratively dividing in half the computer’s memory, and what it means for IT departments. An article in CIO listed pros and cons of BYOD to businesses (Bradley), including:

Benefits

    • Shift technology costs to user
    • Increased worker satisfaction
    • User BYOD devices are “more cutting edge” so companies get “latest features and capabilities”
    • User more frequently (than company would) upgrades device

Concerns

    • Company IT department may not be familiar with device and/or hardware being used
    • Data and document security; ownership; full and selective wipe of data
    • Establishing acceptable use policies

What might the list of pros and cons look like for BYOD or BYOT (bring your own technology) to school districts?

Benefits

    • Students are more engaged according to Volusia County (FL) teachers [here]
    • Districts save money related to IT over long-term [here]
    • Device does not matter because “Internet is the great equalizer” Schad from Katy Independent School District (TX) [here]

In lieu of listing general concerns, check out specific concerns (i.e., “what didn’t work”) identified by school districts one year after implementing BYOD/BYOT polices as outlined by Tech &Learning (here). In addition, this feature article showcases the benefits of such policies and each school’s response to these questions:

What were your goals?

Did you meet those goals?

What improved?

What didn’t work?

Did anything surprise you?

Anything you’d do differently?

Tools [students and teachers] use?

What surprised me from the school responses? The comments connecting technology to enhanced learning and student (and teacher!) engagement, for example:

Students are taking more responsibility in technology use and are engaging in “What is my learning objective?” critical thinking. We have witnessed more thoughtful tech integration in the classroom and it’s driven by students! Students are empowered to use their tools the way they want to support their learning. When teachers allow students to drive technology, they are much more focused on their content specialties than on teaching how to insert a picture in PowerPoint. Collaborative work has increased as well. [LaMaster, Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School (IN)]

Students suggest ideas for digital assignments and projects as well as ways to better present the curriculum. Students started working more naturally in teams because they had authentic tools and reasons to collaborate. We’ve seen higher quality and quantity of student work. It has become much easier and perhaps more natural for teachers to differentiate classroom assignments or assessments when using digital tools. Teacher-to-student communication has improved as well… Students have really enjoyed the role of content producers versus passive consumers. [Graden, Saline Area Schools (MI)]

If the teachers and the instruction are not ready for BYOD, then it will not be successful. It is about creating student-centered instruction that allows students to use technology to its fullest. When students are actively involved with the lesson by gathering information, collaborating, and sharing their findings, technology will have the type of impact for which we have been striving. [Cave, Plainsboro Regional School District (NJ)]

I never realized how many of our instructional and instructional-support staff would bring in their own personal devices to enhance the learning experience. Everyone in the district is given a high-end desktop, but they like to use their own devices when it best serves the students and themselves. [Johnston, Farmington Public Schools (MI)]

Has your school gone BYOD/BYOT? Share your experience with What’s Right in Education followers.

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Bradley, Tony. (12.21.2011). Pros and Cons of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Available online at CIO.com here.

Richtel, Matt. (03.22.2013). Digitally Aided Education, Using the Students’ Own Electronic Gear. New York Times available online here.

Takahashi, Paul. (06.20.2013). Clark County students cleared to start bringing own laptops, tablets to school. Las Vegas Sun available online here.

Ullman, Ellen. (2.5.2013). BYOD—One Year Later. Available online here.

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