Technology In Education – Bring Your Own Device.

By on August 17, 2013

Introducing ‘Bring Your Own Device’.

As technology develops at an ever-increasing pace, it can be extremely difficult for schools to keep up with what is currently available on the market. This has led to the approach that is known as “bring your own device”, which allows school pupils to bring their own laptop computer or tablet into school, connect it to the network and use it in lessons.

Advantages of Bring your own device (or BOYD for short)

This has the advantage of being the device that the child already uses regularly and is familiar with, so valuable lesson time is not being wasted as students familiarise themselves with technology that is, most likely, out of date and not used anywhere else.

All work can also be saved in the same place and will be readily accessible at any time, regardless of where the child is, making it much easier to complete tasks that were started in lessons and need to be finished for homework.

Helpful references – wiki pages

Connectivity.

As the devices will be connected to the school’s network, it will be possible to access the internet and any shared printers exactly as they would previously have done from one of the school’s own computers.

The network can also be used to block access to unsuitable websites, even when “bring your own device” has been implemented.  The idea is being considered, and implemented in both primary and secondary schools across the United Kingdom, although there is concern about whether it should become the norm.

Why BOYD?

Schools are turning to this method of computing because it is becoming prohibitively expensive to keep up to date with the latest advancements in technology.  Computers in schools are usually several years old and do not have the processing power to run some of the latest programs.  They are often slow to boot up and load documents, which means that a great deal of valuable teaching time is taken up with waiting and troubleshooting problems.

As a result, children are learning less, by using technology than they would by using more traditional methods of teaching.

By asking each child to bring their own computer, the problems with unfamiliar, out of date technology are largely eliminated.

Helpful references – Bring your own device guidance PDF from the information commissioner’s office

Potential problems.

There are also many potential problems with this approach to computing in schools, as it involves a large number of expensive devices being brought onto the premises, leading to a very high risk of theft.  There are also concerns about whether the devices would act as a distraction during lessons, preventing children from concentrating because they have access to the internet and any games that are loaded on the devices.

For a head teacher looking to implement a “bring your own device” approach in a school, it is a big step to make, moving away from the expectation that the school will supply what is needed for lessons, beyond the basics such as writing implements.  There is likely to be considerable opposition from both teachers and parents alike, so it is going to be extremely important to explain the benefits of using familiar devices and having them accessible in all lessons.

The growing popularity of tablet devices.

The trend in technology, in recent months, has shifted from desktop and laptop computers to tablet devices, which are small, light and extremely portable.  These would be the most appropriate choice for any school looking to implement a “bring your own device” policy, although it is unlikely that every pupil currently has access to one.  This can mean that parents are facing a considerable expense to ensure that their child is not left behind when it comes to education.

There is an extremely wide selection of tablets available to choose from, with a selection of prices to match.  However, due to the limitations from the school networks, it may be necessary to recommend a particular device, or at the very least, a preferred brand.

A survey carried out by BESA, the trade association for educational suppliers, found that the majority of schools identified the iPad as the most appropriate device, but they would also not be prepared to pay more than £200 for a single tablet.  This puts not only the iPad and iPad mini, but almost all tablets, out of the reach of schools if they had to purchase them.  Asking pupils to bring their own relieves this budget problem.

Tablets are more suitable for the classroom than laptop computers due to their nature as portable devices; they are much smaller but offer many of the same advantages.  They are also touchscreen, which eliminates the need for a mouse, which many laptop users prefer to the built-in touchpad.

Introducing BYOD to campus.

If you are looking to introduce a “bring your own device” scheme, then you will need to ensure that the school’s network is capable of handling a wide range of devices, and also the number of tablets and laptops that will be needed.  This is likely to be one of the biggest obstacles to overcome, and it must be addressed before the implementation of the scheme, or it will cause more problems than it addresses.

Your computer technicians should be able to advise you on what will be needed, and you should also speak to the company supplying your network servers, as they may need upgrading.

Helpful references – Our ICT

Conclusions.

The trend for bringing your own device is presently growing in popularity, and is likely to continue in the future.  The BESA survey also showed that the majority of schools would consider the use of this scheme, with only 19 percent ruling out the possibility entirely.  This could, potentially, lead to improvements in the integration of education and technology, but it could also lead to some children being at a disadvantage if their family cannot afford a tablet.  Schools will need to take this

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David is currently writing for various guest blog publications that specialise in technology and the education sector.

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