Teachers in the US are all for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) - provided certain rules are observed.
Why teachers are in favour of BYOD
The main advantage cited by the NEA (National Education Association) is cost savings, as BYOD means schools don’t have to fork out for new equipment.
In addition to the financial considerations, another major advantage is the educational benefits of mobile devices, which were tested during pilot programmes in several states.
Students can for example attend lectures via podcasts they can consult online at home for their homework, leaving them free during class to ask the teacher questions and discuss and solve problems as a group. The same advantages apply to teachers: they can deliver their pre-recorded lessons and be free to interact with students and offer individual help and coaching to those with difficulties.
More generally speaking, students with mobile devices acquire collaborative working skills, according to some teachers, by learning to search for, select and share information that can be useful for learning, preparing for exams and for their future career. It also forces them to learn how to troubleshoot when faced with problems on their equipment, a skill that will serve them well once they enter the job market.
From a purely practical vantage, students using their own devices will already be familiar with the technology. Having connected devices also means that students have fewer text books to carry (and potentially leave at home), and such devices offer access to online resources, either on the school’s dedicated platform or stored on the hard drive or in the cloud.
Another practical consideration: the schools who took part in pilot programmes observed that students tend to take better care of their own hardware than of equipment lent by the school.
How to manage BYOD in the digital classroom?
The first possible issue associated with implementing BYOD is that of the difference in students’ incomes. One solution suggested by the teachers on the pilot programme would be for each school, district or state to lend equipment to students on tight budgets, or help them fund their purchases.
Another problem is training teaching staff to use mobile devices, wireless networks, content platforms and file formats that can be accessed from any device. All the pilot programmes included training sessions given by head teachers, IT teams or technology-savvy teachers .
Above all, schools have also laid down guidelines for using personal devices at school, getting students to sign charters including provisions to restrict use of devices for class assignments during school hours (with teacher supervision), limit access to certain online services for security reasons, and a procedure for charging batteries.
Other prerequisites identified by the schools who experimented with BYOD are an effective internet connection, good IT support and, in some cases, desktop virtualisation to ensure easy multi-platform access.
BYOD and the digital classroom: read about the pilot programmes in the USA
- On the Getting Smart website: 5 strategies to deliver edtech access to every student and the Are you going BYOD? infographic.
- Feedback from schools who have experimented with BYOD on the blog Edudemic: 10 real-world BYOD Classrooms
- BYOD as seen by a teacher from the NEA: Should schools embrace Bring Your Own Device?
- A more technical, IT approach from EDTECH: what districts should know about BYOD and digital learning