Bring your own device to the classroom

Posted on Friday, 1/17/2014 5:02 PM

As the use of mobile and tablet technology continues to increase year after year, teachers and students are left to determine when and how frequently personal devices can be implemented in the classroom. Bring your own device, or BYOD programs, are gaining steam as schools attempt to increase the use of student software in the classroom. While the BYOD concept opens a wealth of educational opportunities for students, there are several factors in place that may hinder students and schools from fully adopting the program.  

Positive impacts
When students are free to bring their own devices to the classroom, they open up a variety of resources not previously incorporated in traditional teaching methods. With the introduction of this mobile technology comes the implementation of downloadable apps, digital forms of class participation and interactive new lessons.

Tim Clark, coordinator of instructional technology for Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, told Mind/Shift that the possibilities for this technology were endless.

"Instead of this just being a technology initiative, it really is an instructional initiative, so all of us from different departments can get on the same page," he told the source.

In addition to providing students the opportunity to bring their own devices to the classroom, teachers have the ability to unlock potential in these devices that students were previously unaware of. While students are increasingly comfortable with their own devices, they become more informed as to how they can use them as educational tools. Also, by giving students the freedom to learn with their own technology, teachers afford the benefit of choice to their students.

"It's about the kids being empowered in the classroom to make decisions about the ways that they are learning," said Clark.

While BYOD has the potential to utilize software for students that may not be available on school-provided devices, academic institutions must remain aware that not all students possess mobile or tablet technology, especially in low-income area schools. Educators that wish to enact a BYOD policy would be responsible for providing software for students who do not already own it. However, one California school district with a BYOD policy, the Oyster River Cooperative School District, purchased enough mobile devices for the student population, ensuring all students had equal access to the new technology.

Perhaps the most restrictive issue with BYOD is the Internet capabilities of the school. Institutions are already experiencing issues with overloaded bandwidth, meaning too many students are trying to connect to the Internet at one time. District Administration reports that on average, school networks are built to support one computer per five students. Should a district be looking into enacting its own BYOD policy, the Internet capabilities should be thoroughly checked.

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