Bring your own technology

If ever there was an idea whose time has come, it is surely Bring Your Own Device or, to be less restrictive, Bring Your Own Technology. There are at least two comp0elling reasons for this.

Girl with her phoneFrom a financial point of view, if students are allowed to bring their own technology it should save the school money. A cynical view would be that the school is shifting the expense from itself to its parents. A realistic view (and, after all, what is a cynical view if not realistic?) is that the days of plenty as far as money to spend on education technology are long gone, especially in Britain.

But a narrow cynical view doesn't tell the whole story. Less money spent on hardware means more money to spend on other things. True, one of the things the school must do is ensure that its infrastructure is robust enough to support the new environment, but from talking to some schools I have found, not surprisingly, that this is a fraction of the cost of investing in hardware.

Another benefit is teacher and student satisfaction. If you use a particular device at home, you’re likely to feel more comfortable using it at school than using various other computers and laptops (and healthier too, because you will only be touching your own bugs!).

There are other potential benefits too, such as being able to achieve a one-to-one computer-pupil ratio more cheaply, quickly and easily than by purchasing lots of devices for students to use.

There are downsides too, of course. Security is one. Another is the challenge to teachers to change their approach (and levels of confidence) to be able to make good use of a situation in which everyone in their classroom has a different device, and possibly even different software or apps.

Have any of you made any moves on the implementation of a ‘bring your own technology’ (BYOT) – or what is also referred to as a BYO/BYOC/BYOD or student owned devices - model or are in the throes of contemplating such an introduction? I know of a few schools that have explored this, and have good material for five interesting case studies so far, but do you know of any schools employing or soon to employ the approach?

Australia-based consultant and author Mal Lee states:

Conscious of the ‘tsunami like’ developments globally in this area and the importance of integrating the shift with the desired whole school development, Martin Levins and I are planning on writing a series of articles and short book on the rationale and to guide the way. The plan is to draw upon the experiences of the pathfinding schools here, NZ, the US and the UK in the preparation of that material. We would thus love to hear from any of you making the move and to get word on the schools worth following up.

I’m especially interested in BYOT or BYOD because I’ve been asked to contribute to the book mentioned by Mal. If your school has thought about going down this route, or has started to go down it, I’d love to hear from you because I am looking for more case studies to cite. (We have five from England so far, and one from the Channel Islands. I’m interested in hearing from other schools in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the Channel Islands, and Europe in particular, but if your school is somewhere else, please contact me anyway.)

Please get in touch as soon as possible if any of this applies to you. Note that I am not necessarily looking for schools that have completed the journey, but those which have started on it or even only started thinking about starting on it. The way this will work is if you send me an email saying that your school has considered BYOT or is actually implementing it, I’ll send you a questionnaire, some of which I can complete via a Skype conversation with you.

I’m on a bit of a tight deadline, so if you could contact me sooner rather than later that would be much appreciated!

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This article is a slightly modified version of one which appeared in Computers in Classrooms, the free e-newsletter for people with a professional interest in educational ICT.