BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a buzz-phrase hitting classrooms at the moment, favoured for its immediate benefits in terms of cost-savings. It’s clear that as schools are undergoing constant improvements (in terms of which technologies will work with their internal systems), the simple solution would be to have the bulk of these investments in the hands of the children (and the pockets of the parents). The alternative would be buying new equipment for every child, every time a new system outgrows the old one.
Benefits to BYOD
Apart from the obvious financial benefits, there are numerous other factors which can shine a favourable light on BYOD practices. Most of the positives come from the child themselves owning their own technology. Most parents will find the devices they have at home are more up-to-date than those owned by schools, and with the child having their own device, there comes a greater amount of familiarity with the tools they are using. Their engagement would be higher than it would be with a tool they aren’t familiar with. Also, the care given by the students to their own equipment versus school equipment tends to favour their own equipment, decreasing the likelihood of accidents with devices in general. If the impetus is on the student to maintain their own devices, they are a lot more likely to look after them.
Negatives to BYOD
Every teacher who’s in favour of a BYOD attitude to learning will find they come across a range of reasons which stifle an ability commit completely to this mindset. There are the easily tackled topics: for example, what would you do if a student forget to bring in their own device? This is a practice which has gone on for years, regardless, children forgetting kit of one sort or the other, and the solution would be presented in a similar way: they would use a friend’s device, or loan one from the school in that instance.
The main issue is the variety of different systems the children could end up using. Two children could both bring in their tablet devices, but making sure they’re both capable of running the same educational software could become a huge task in itself. Maintaining consistency between software and hardware will be the biggest struggle, something which doesn’t occur if the school is responsible for the devices used.
If you told an adult they had to use a specific set of software, and that they couldn’t use their own hardware or software of choice, you’ll no doubt run into a poor reaction. The truth is, the majority of professionals these days will much rather prefer using their own tools, even if that means making compromises along the way. Having children raised on technological independence, using their own devices and working within their own boundaries, would be excellent preparation for later life when they discover they prefer certain tool-sets over others.
The jury is still out on BYOD, but it would certainly be interesting to see how it’s implemented by those schools which decide to see if it can be of workable benefit to their staff and their students.