There is a trend around the country and around the world where the need for students to bring your own device (BYOD) is critical to maintain productivity of students and internet access because of decreasing school budgets to purchase new and maintain current computer/laptops. I was surprised to find out that Australia, between 2009 and 2013, provided laptops to all high school students, and then transferred that responsibility to the parents. (Duncombe, 2016) Each state in that country would have to establish their own BYOD policy and minimum device specifications.
I do think that schools need to have a BYOD policy because of the growth in access to smartphone technology and tablet devices. In my experience, there has been an increased growth in ownership of smartphones than with tablet/laptop devices. That may be due to the relative ease of acquiring a device relatively cheap through carrier plans. But that does not mean that 100% of students have a device, far from that.
In that regard, our district has already taken steps to deal with “outside” devices on the school network. The network can recognize school devices and foreign devices, as well as recognize administrator, staff, and student accounts on school provided devices. Based on your categorization, you are provided access, or denied access to almost anything on the internet. As a teacher, I would have to be honest and say that the restrictions put on staff accounts are getting stricter each month. I believe this is due to the relative ease of students to bypass network restrictions and the IT department’s vigor in providing a safe environment for students to work and access online resources.
Now that we are allowing students and adults to have devices in the school and the network can handle the increased usage. There needs to be some guidelines and tips for teachers to follow when students use their own devices in the class. Patrick Peterson provides 14 tips to make a BYOD program work. (2016)
- Keep control of student use, and make sure devices are not in use whenever anyone addresses the class;
- Have students support each other;
- There should be consistent consequences for off task behavior;
- Bring the device out only when it is needed;
- Know what each device can do;
- Walk around the classroom to spot problems;
- Always have a “Plan B” to work around tech issues;
- Communicate appropriate use;
- Set clear expectations;
- Let go of control;
- Be flexible;
- Explore gaming as a teaching tool and an incentive;
- Assign group roles; and
- Teach responsibility.
I think this list is pretty comprehensive. I would have some issues with letting go of control. I believe this tip alone would allow students to engage in improper use of devices, but this tip is to allow teachers to embrace BYOD because you really can’t control students on their own device. They have freedom, and I believe if you teach responsibility and students know the expectations of teachers regarding BYOD, they can make good decisions. But as any teacher would tell you, there are those students that will not follow guidelines, and so there should be consistent consequences for off task behavior. This is a great list of guidelines for teachers to follow in the class for BYOD.
In an effort to find some devices that are relatively cheap and usable in the class if parents/guardians want to purchase a device, I found that PC Magazine rates the Asus Chromebook Flip (C100PA-DB02) and the Acer Chromebook R 11 (CB5-132T-C1LK) as the best cheap laptops. (Ragaza, 2016) For those that want to purchase a decent tablet, TechRadar rates the Nexus 9 and the iPad Mini 2 as the best cheap tablets. (Faulkner, 2016)
I think we live in an advanced technological era that it should be expected that students and staff will BYOD, and schools need to address this influx of devices through district or school policy.
Martini, P. (2013). 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program. TeachThought. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/uncategorized/4-challenges-can-cripple-schools-byod-program/
Holeywell, R. (2013). BYOD Policies, Growing More Popular Create Challenges for Schools. Governing. Retrieved from http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-byod-policies-create-school-challenges.html
Peterson, P. (2016). 14 Tips to Make BYOD Programs Work for You. THE Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2016/01/19/make-byod-programs-work-for-you.aspx
Duncombe, S. (2016). Back to school tech buying guide: What kind of laptop or tablet does your child need? Choice. Retrieved from https://www.choice.com.au/electronics-and-technology/tablets-and-personal-media-devices/tablets/buying-guides/back-to-school-tech
Ragaza, L. (2016). The Best Cheap Laptops of 2016. PC Magazine [online]. Retrieved from http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2371334,00.asp
Faulkner, C. (2016). The Best Cheap Tablets of 2016. TechRadar. Retrieved from http://www.techradar.com/us/news/mobile-computing/tablets/best-cheap-tablets-top-budget-options-967277