Mobile technology in the classroom is now a reality, and if your school hasn’t yet implemented a mobile device learning policy, now’s the time. Schools across the globe are embracing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ or BYOD to harness the benefits the connected classroom offers. BYOD entails the use of multiple devices, ranging from smartphones, laptops, iPads and tablets that are then brought from home to school, and connected to the school’s wireless network. As BYOD in education becomes more widespread, we’ll explore the benefits and challenges associated with the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) strategy:
There are several advantages to implementing a BYOD strategy into your classrooms.
Since today’s learners are already using mobile devices outside of the classroom, incorporating the very devices that they’re able to use and eradicates the need to train learners to use a different device or operating system. Importantly, it gives them a sense of ownership and autonomy. What’s more, because learners are already familiar with the device in question, they are more likely to engage with learning material if they can do so on the device of their choosing. When integrated with the necessary infrastructure and a clear mobile device use policy, students and teachers benefit from an increase in both productivity and efficiency, says this article from NEN – The Education Network. BYOD in education has given rise to the “flipped classroom”, reports NEN which is defined by Wikipedia as: “any use of technology to leverage the learning in a classroom, so a teacher can spend more time interacting with students instead of lecturing”. Notably, making use of BYOD in education – as opposed to the 1:1 mobile device strategy – is financially appealing to schools who’re already working with limited budgets. As the onus to pay for the device falls on the parents or students, there’s no hefty initial investment required.
On the flipside of the coin, there are several challenges associated with incorporating BYOD in education.
While BYOD requires no once-off financial investment in hundreds of devices, it does call for the installation of infrastructure and IT resources that can support multiple devices running on multiple operating systems simultaneously. This requires time, a dedicated budget, and a team of IT professionals who’re willing to spend time with teachers and students as they grapple with multiple issues on multiple devices. Perhaps one of the most frustrating challenges brought about by BYOD in education is the fact that teachers are the first point of call when devices play up or fail to work. Uncharged laptops or tablets that won’t sync can hinder or delay a teaching schedule – not to mention frustrate already-frazzled educators. In addition, ensuring that students aren’t exposed to unsuitable or potentially harmful content and interactions during school hours calls for a robust mobile device usage policy. While utilising BYOD in education has many benefits, the real-life ramifications of managing, storing and syncing multiple devices can become an added burden if schools are insufficiently equipped.
As Tim Panagos, from app-creation company Point.io, writing for Wired.com posits: “Today it would be unthinkable not to teach children how to read and to write… By the end of the decade, it will be considered just as unthinkable to deprive children of their computational tools for the very same reasoning as we apply to writing…”. Effectively deploying BYOD in education then, is a necessity.