BYOD in Schools: Observations, Advantages, Policies, and Concerns

  • February 1, 2019

BYOD in Schools

Technological innovations are bringing a plethora of opportunities in the education world, which bring along possibilities as well as challenges for the teachers and students. Basically, technology-driven education has two key issues to deal with – gadgets and electronic study mediums that are fast becoming obsolete and students who need to use these devices for education and not social networking. The introduction of BYOD in schools aims to solve both these problems with ease and efficiency. On top of it, there are other advantages and benefits of embracing BYOD amongst students. However, we also need to consider the challenges, concerns, and policies to ensure complete success in its implementation and execution. Let’s look at them one by one.

BYOD program in schools: Some Observations

Gen Y children are smarter than they were ever before, thanks to the influx of technologies like digitalization, virtualization, AR, VR and so on. Today’s students are well-read about the most relevant and current study-related apps, gadgets, devices, and websites, so much so that the teachers need to constantly keep pace with the updates of new technology trends. Schools and educational institutions are fast embracing the latest technological innovations that are bringing a revolution in the learning and education sector. In order to validate this observation, many firms have conducted different researches:

  • According to a Student Pulse Survey conducted by Top Hat (a maker of classroom engagement platform) and Survata across 520 colleges, 94% of students want to use their own mobile devices in classrooms for their academic purposes.
  • The same survey also found out that 75% of students convey that digital devices help them learn more effectively and 81% would pay up to $100 for a digital textbook.
  • In another survey conducted by Student Monitor, it was found that 88% of students access the web every day for various purposes like research, social networking, e-mails, text friends, collaborate or create content.
  • At the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, they did some analytics to find out devices per user on their wireless network and it averaged out to 2.1 devices per user. Some of the institutions have reported device-to- student ratios as high as 3.5-to-1!
  • As per the 21st Century Campus Report, while selecting the institutes, technology offerings are considered key differentiation by 92 % of students seeking admission.  

BYOD policy is a hit with students and schools

According to the numbers, students are increasingly seeing technology as the critical factor for their academic success and this acts as a decision-making factor while selecting colleges and universities, who meet their tech expectations and needs. IT admins of many schools and colleges have started to believe that students are the driving force in setting up the IT agenda of the institutes and they need to quickly adapt to be competitive. As a matter of fact, students prefer using their own smartphones, tablets or laptops for academic purposes as they have a certain level of user comfort. An IT strategy backed with a robust (Bring Your Own Device) BYOD policy becomes the answer.

The advantage for schools: BYOD implementation proves to be effective in lifting off the schools’ expensive device budgets. Students bringing their own devices at classrooms means freeing the schools from the responsibility of providing each device to each student. This enables the schools to focus on more crucial aspects like quality of education, communication, training, co-curricular etc. In this case, schools can readily meet the requirements of students who cannot afford to bring their smartphones.

The advantage for students: The young minds are the most flexible and prudent when it comes to experimenting, exploring and discovering. BYOD is loved by students for the convenience, comfort, and flexibility it offers. Studying, sharing, researching and completing projects could never get easier than this as students experience an enhanced sense of engagement, curiosity, agility and interaction with the introduction of BYOD in schools. With improved collaboration, BYOD greatly reduces the learning curve.

BYOD School Policies: There are steps to be taken

After much consideration, when a school finally decides to implement BYOD for students, there is a full list of policies that the school needs to follow for beneficial BYOD execution.

  1. Build a BYOD research team to analyze all the angles of BYOD, the probable issues, challenges, and concerns, security factors, assess how other schools have implemented it and which BYOD model will be suitable.
  2. Conduct a survey to understand the user attitude and types of devices. Gather opinions from parents, staff, and guardians. Interpret the collected data and clarify the next step.
  3. After analyzing the survey data, hold a meeting and share your findings with all stakeholders like students, teachers, staff, parents, guardians, and caregivers and have an open discussion about BYOD introduction in schools.
  4. Create a BYOD interest group with representation from each stakeholder group and draft a complete BYOD policy document including aspects like:
  • General user guidelines
  • Consequences for disruption and misuse
  • Minimum software and hardware device requirements
  • Liability statement defining terms of device purchase, safety, insurance & maintenance
  • User agreement
  1. Circulate this elongated BYOD policy across all stakeholders and gather feedback and comments from them and the school community
  2. Gather opinions, advice, and feedback to document the final policy sheet
  3. Share and communicate the final School BYOD policy with all students, teachers, staff, parents and the school community.

But there are concerns as well!

Like a coin with two sides, BYOD for education comes with certain concerns, especially when the users are students. Teachers majorly worry about the usage of electronic devices and smartphones as they have witnessed students getting distracted by them in the classroom. Although, certain restrictions can help these too can be violated by tech-savvy students who always find a way around these limitations. There are other sources of distractions such as inapt entertainment, games and social media.

On the other hand, implementing BYOD in schools might also add to the already existing gap between the low and high-income families followed by students distinguishing each other based on the devices they use. One thing leads to other and this may trigger bullying of low-income students by the others. However, these concerns could not diminish the prevalence of BYOD in schools, but the school authorities are expected to address these challenges as well while keeping in mind other elements like teacher training, community preference, student performance, and financial reasonability.

To sum up, BYOD comes with its associated risks, concerns, and possibilities – it will be the school’s responsibility to implement a BYOD Management strategy powered with apt policies, security regulations, guidelines, and best practices. Students should always be encouraged to use and leverage the latest technologies to stay abreast and learn faster. BYOD offers multiple scopes with an added feeling of familiarity as students find it easy to grab a lesson when they are taught through an already known medium.

About the Author

Sonali has an extensive experience in content writing, marketing, and strategy and she has worked with companies where she was involved in the 360-degree content production and editing. An avid reader and animal lover, she loves to cook, take care of her plants and travel.

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