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BYOT: the policy that dare not speak its name?

A couple of months ago Mike Sharples, a researcher at the Open University, told me that he had looked at the websites of some of the schools I was writing up case studies on in connection with their Bring Your Own Technology policy, but was unable to find any references to it whatsoever. He came to the conclusion that:

BYOT is the policy that dare not speak its name.

Is BYOT a big secret for many schools? Image (c) Mike Licht, http://www.flickr.com/photos/notionscapital/I have to say that although there are quite a few schools adopting a BYOT approach, finding them has not been easy. In fact, I still haven’t quite worked out whether there are not that many of them as a percentage of all schools, or whether the ones that are doing it don’t want to say too much in case it all goes horribly wrong. (Some years ago I saw an advertisement for a teacher of “discreet [sic] ICT”, and am wondering if this is what they had in mind!)

Last week I attended a half-day conference on the subject of Digital And Mobile Learning. It was excellent: informed speakers (Ray Weaver and John Botham OBE among others), down-to-earth presentations and a group small enough to be able to interact with almost everybody over coffee and lunch.

When it came to the Q & A session I asked the panel of speakers if they thought BYOT was not very prevalent, possibly prevalent but with nobody wanting to put their head above the parapet, or some combination of the two. The general consensus seemed to be that it’s a mixture of the two: not too many schools are doing it, and those which are adopting BYOT are in the vanguard of a new trend. Being in the vanguard is not too comfortable a position, so most prefer to keep fairly quiet about it. (Interestingly as well, one of the teachers in the audience said that his school had all the infrastructure in place, but was very hesitant about opening what I think they regard as a Pandora’s Box, which seems to bear some of this out.)

My feeling is that the proportion of schools going down the BYOT route is small, but definitely growing, because there are several compelling reasons to do so. The trouble with all this is that it’s very much anecdotal evidence, and so far I’ve not managed to find any hard and fast statistics (and would they be completely believable anyway?).

Do you have an opinion on, or any knowledge of, this? Is BYOT indeed the policy that dare not speak its name, and if so why? Or is it just not very prevalent yet? And again, if that’s the case, why not? I’d love to hear from you, either in a comment on this post or contact me by email.

Incidentally, if you wish you had been able to get to the half-day conference I referred to, there’s another one being held on 13th July 21st September in South Tyneside from 09:30 to 13:00. Lunch is included and it’s free (woo hoo!). If you’re a member of you’re school’s senior leadership team, an ICT teacher or an ICT technician and would like to attend, contact Julia Small to reserve a place: julia.small@openzone.org.uk or 0191 427 2120.

And see the BYOT blog as well.

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(c) Terry Freedman