BYOD: Wave of the Future or Disaster Waiting to Happen?

Flashback: Five years ago.

You’re a high school student in your last class of the day. You whip out your cell phone and attempt to surreptitiously text your friend under your desk  to confirm your after-school Jamba Juice trip. You’re about to hit “send” when –

“Mr./Ms. ___(Insert your last name here)____, is that a cell phone under your desk? Bring it to the front, please.”

Busted. You begrudgingly turn in the offending device to the teacher, promptly get detention, and spend the remainder of the class period and subsequent detention wistfully imagining the Aloha Pineapple smoothie that could have been yours.

Even five years later, such is still the typical cell phone policy in most schools. However, schools are now implementing B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) policies, a recent trend in the workplace that is now making its way into schools. B.Y.O.D. policies in schools range from allowing students to use their cell phones during class to asking them to bring their own laptops and tablets into the classroom to use.

The policy has its pros. Schools that have implemented the policy cite multiple advantages to B.Y.O.D.:

  • Technology is the future of education, why not embrace it and encourage students to use it?
  • B.Y.O.D. saves schools money, as they don’t have to buy expensive classroom sets of computers.
  • Students will become more enthusiastic about learning if they’re able to use their own devices, and are more likely to be engaged in the class activity.
  • B.Y.O.D supports independent learning and can facilitate collaboration, problem solving, and communication.

Read a recent  article about a school with an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude that’s excited about piloting a B.Y.O.D. policy for mobile devices.

The B.Y.O.D. policy has its downsides as well, and critics cite the cons:

  • Device inequality: In most school districts, students come from a variety of backgrounds, so some students could have access to better quality equipment than others, giving them an unfair advantage.
  • B.Y.O.D. is an IT nightmare for techies and teachers — schools may not support all types of devices, and teachers will waste valuable class time dealing with the many tech issues that could arise.
  • K-12 students will inevitably become distracted and use their devices to be off-task.
  • Internet content filtering becomes complicated with a B.Y.O.D. policy, and it could give students access to websites they probably shouldn’t be looking at.

Read another recent article by an ex-educational IT staff member who thinks B.Y.O.D. policies in schools are a downright bad idea.

Clearly reviews are mixed, and only time will tell whether or not B.Y.O.D. implementation will be successful in schools.

What do you think of implementing B.Y.O.D. in schools? Sound off in the comments below!

Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.

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About Caity Doyle

Caity is a former English teacher and the editor of Technapex. Caity is extremely passionate about education and is TriplePoint PR's resident edtech expert. When not researching education policy and edtech, she enjoys running along the Bay Trail while blaring the Boss through her headphones, watching the Giants beat the Dodgers, and meeting fellow Italians in North Beach.
  • Ndoyle

    I’m still on the no side of cell phones in class, but if the teacher is smart and sets clear guidelines I see a big advantage to getting students more engaged.  They are way to tempting to some students!

  • Erin Whitsell

    This will increase thefts in many schools and there is no reason for kids to be on phones as those same kids who can’t afford laptops, won’t have internet access on their phones.  Hands down no on the phones for sure!
     

  • queenbee7658

    sadly it will boil down to an equity issue–the haves will have great service, access to the internet and apps to help them with school–the have nots will sit and watch and fall further behind. Unless public schools are willing to balance that by making sure everyone is on the same page(equivalent technology and access), then no. Private schools won’t have that problem–as long as they make sure they keep everyone on a level playing field…..

  • http://twitter.com/Deanpawlik Deanpawlik

    Your post simplifies the pros and cons well.  Inequality should be dealt with through school provided “back up” laptops in the classroom (BYOD should NOT be seen as a cost saving policy) also through creative lesson designs that allow students to share devices. A school needs to have the wireless infrastructure to start and teachers do not need to be experts with every device.  Students know their own devices better than anyone and will help each other. Finally kids go off-task in many classes whether they have a device or not. A focus on student responsibility and security are some of the real problems with BYOD.

  • umbrarchist

    I am typing this on a Google Nexus 7. Soon China will be cranking out $100 dual-core tablets with a gig of RAM and TF slots. More power won’t matter. I need to get a USB keyboard and this would be as good as a laptop.