As the use of mobile technology becomes more and more widespread, increasing numbers of schools are implementing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programmes.
There are many benefits to this approach, not least of which is the reduced cost implications for the school. However, it can also help to promote personalised learning, improved problem solving and help to develop collaborative learning amongst students. Of course there are complications associated with such a strategy; compatibility with school systems, security, management and equality of access, but the benefits of mobile technology in learning are such that these challenges are worth overcoming. This being the case, what do you need to consider when looking at BYOD in your school?
- Think about why BYOD will benefit your school. Mobile technology is a tool like any other and a clear set of aims will ensure that their use is targeted in such a way as to enhance teaching and not detract from it.
- What is your AUP like? The school will have less control over the devices if they are owned by the students. Policies regarding their use need to focus on the responsibility of the student and the trust that the school is placing in the student. Consider how you want students to access the internet during school hours for example and how this will be regulated.
- Decide how you will support devices. It will be important to decide and communicate exactly what IT support will be provided for personal devices and when this will be available. Many schools leave the maintenance of student devices to the students and their parents. This will need to be made clear if you are not to find yourself running a support desk at all hours of the day.
- Prepare your teachers. Teaching staff will need advice on how to conduct lessons across a variety of platforms. It will help to specify certain types of app that will need to be available on student devices so that teachers know what their students will be able to do. Teachers do not need to be experts in every type of device, they need to know how to use mobile technology to enhance their teaching.
- Provide a platform for devices to access. BYOD encourages anytime, anywhere, any device learning — so make sure you have a safe, mobile, collaborative platform compatible with any device that students and teachers can access for schoolwork, discussions, resources and assignments. Without a mobile learning platform, BYOD programs run the risk of devices simply being "toys" that are suddenly allowed inside the classroom. A learning platform gives the devices an educational purpose.
Most importantly, you need to remain flexible. One of the features of BYOD is that the nature of the devices being used will be constantly changing; be prepared to adapt to unexpected surprises and learn from them. Teachers, students and parents will come across things while using BYOD that they hadn’t planned for, but of course discovery is what lies at the heart of education isn’t it?