Thursday, November 24, 2011

Bring Your Own Device

eye phone
This new post by Andrew Churches (who has done a lot of work on digital citizenship) is an optimistic and hopeful take on the notion of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) which students are doing anyway, even as some schools try to ban them.

He says: "I love the concept of BYOD (Bring your own device) on a number of levels. We have a successful BYOD program at the senior school and it works." He goes on to say that trust and strong education in digital citizenship is important in a school that has a BYOD policy. I think that this is the wrong way round.

Given that students will often flout the ban on personal devices anyway and that they are using them outside of school, isn't it important to be teaching them " a strong ethical and moral approach to the use of technology" anyway and what better way to do this than in the context of students using these devices in a place where adults' wisdom can guide the student. To do otherwise seems to me to be an abrogation of educators' responsibilities.

ReadWriteWeb reports on a survey of students
"The two major obstacles that students say they face at school (to their learning - my emphasis): filters that stop them from accessing the websites they need for homework and bans on using their own mobile devices (namely cellphones) at school."
A BYOD policy would help with this.

But not only that:
"The majority of parents surveyed - 67% - said that they were willing to buy their children a mobile device for school if the schools allowed it, and parents seemed particularly interested in their children using these devices in order to access online textbooks."

But there are nay-sayers. Gary Stager is looking at the issue in a different way:
Believing that expecting students to bring their own device from home "diminishes the otherwise enormous potential of educational computing to the weakest “device” in the room... Kids need a personal computer capable of doing anything you imagine they should be able to do, plus leave plenty of room for growth and childlike ingenuity," Stager believes that schools should provide those computers and not rely on the inequities caused by expecting parents to bear the full cost.

However, it seems that many schools are implementing or thinking of implementing a BYOD policy. The next two educational bloggers have been thinking about what would make such a policy truly effective on an educational level. Read what they have to say and join in the conversation on their blogs or on this one. Leave a comment if you are moved to do so. We need critical thoughtful voices and the voices of experience to move to the next level, whatever that is.

Doug Peterson says:
"So, while BYOD has all kinds of possibilities when working on projects and assignments, I think that a personal planner takes it one step further. If that device becomes a cornerstone to everything that a student is doing academically, it gets us closer to a vision of a connected student, firing on all cylinders."

Darren Kuropatwa goes further and makes over 10 practical suggestions and concludes:
"My class will teach the world what they learn with me. Everything will be accessible online and on a mobile device."

That sounds good to me.

Image attribution: Eye Phone by Jeff Meyer


  1. It saddens me that tech directors in places where every kid got a personal laptop (a real computer) and learned to program and have agency over that computer, now recommends cheapo budget-cutting strategies like BYOD.

    If schools didn't needlessly ban things kids have, then they would not need to enact moronic new policies to allow the very same stuff.

    Anything legal a kid brings to school is potentially useful, but that's not the point. It's wrong to be arbitrarily mean to children. Schools need to lower the level of antagonism between adults and kids.

    Folks promoting policies like BYOD seem to define educational technology as anything that uses electricity. They possess no philosophical stance regarding learning, especially since education is after all just knowledge access and recapitulation.

    The fact that computers may be used in sophisticated ways to construct knowledge in domains previously inaccessible to kids is of no consequence to the tech directors who say, "Let them eat cellphone," while they have a brand new MacBook Pro, iPhone 4s and business class seats to edtech conferences.

  2. Thanks Gary. I suppose there are 2 issues: schools trying to save money by using the students' own "devices" and secondly: Schools trying to allow students to use the tools they are comfortable with. There is no reason that schools can't do both - allow students to use smartphones, tablets etc when they are not trying to program or do the higher order things on computers AND school provided computers when this is important for their learning.