The question over the use of personal technology in schools has gained a great deal of attention in the educational arena in recent years. When cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices began gaining popularity in the last few years, many teachers and schools initial reaction was to ban them from the classroom completely because of their potential negative implications as a distraction to learning. However, with continued advancements in mobile technology, there are a growing number of educators who are confident that there are significant benefits to using mobile technology in the classroom.
There are a variety of reasons to embrace technology in the classroom, but most importantly, “the increasing use, availability, and low cost of equipment invites educators to begin finding ways to successfully use these devices in their classrooms” (Martin, Pastore & Snider, 2012). Technology in the classroom enables students and teachers unlimited access to “information and resources through functions and applications such as cellular calls, Instant Messaging services (IM), audio/video recording, wireless internet access, social-networking applications, mobile dictionaries and flashcard programs” (Barrs, 2011).
The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device Program) in the East Penn School district will allow students to utilize their own existing technology to enhance classroom learning. Integrating technology into learning allows educators and trainers to engage students in new and different ways. While one child might learn best through reading about a process or theory in a book, another might learn better through a video, app, or an interactive website that helps illustrate and break down the same topic. A wide variety of technology that can be utilized in the learning process – with computers being the most prevalent, but other tools like smart phones, tablets, and iPods also have learning benefits. Advocates of BYOD programs “like them for a lot of reasons: budgets keep dwindling, students already bring devices to school, and technology isn’t getting cheaper” (“BYOD Strategies”, 2012).
Additional benefits of BYOD are a sense of flexibility and interactivity in classroom activities and the convenience of having all school documents and emails on one device. Parents may have concerns about their children’s personal emails, photos, social media accounts, music, etc. being stored on the same device being used for school, but the East Penn BYOD program has security features built in once a student is connected to the network to help prevent your child from spending school time on non-educational activities. In addition, teachers will be monitoring the use of these devices to ensure they are being employed to aid in learning not distract from it and they will decide when the devices are to be used and when they should be turned off or put away.
The move towards cloud storage and web-based software help make BYOD in the classroom a reality. Many of the programs used by students, teachers and administrators in East Penn are in the cloud, allowing access from any device with no software installations necessary. Rather than carrying around a USB drive to move files from one device to another, everything is easily accessible from any device when it’s stored in the cloud and students can access files and programs from home or school via different devices.
Parents may have concerns related to security breaches as a result of a lost personal device with important school projects and information on it however when students are connected to the school’s network, their documents can be saved and stored in their Google Drive like they do using school-owned computers, web access only will not allow them to save to their H drive (home directory) as they can do on a district-owned computer. Ultimately it is up to the students (and parents) to protect and secure their devices and the school is not responsible for any lost, stolen or malfunctioning personal technological devices. Remember this is no way for the Office of Technology staff to be familiar with or responsible for the care and maintenance of personal devices so you should be prepared to assist your child if technology problems or needs arise.
In Nelson’s 2012 article, he eloquently sums up the fundamental reasons to embrace BYOD:
They have the devices. They have the access. Schools must grasp that opportunity to leverage this, not just to cover curriculum but to teach how to use the power in their hands to find out what they need to know- for today and for life. This is an amazing opportunity, and one which we cannot afford to miss. Our students are waiting. (p.15)
BYOD Video Resources
Focuses on a variety of benefits and uses of technology in the classroom – not just mobile and students’ own devices, but technology use in general. This video promotes BYOD by showing the power of technology and why increased access and use is important.
This video describes BYOD benefits and provides a rationale for the program with a focus on leveraging students’ personal technology to provide access to those who can’t afford their own devices.
BYOD Presentation Video: evolution of education showing benefits of technology and inequality of access because of finances. Starts a dialogue on program pros, cons, and concerns.
Barrs, K. (2011). Mobility in learning: The feasibility of encouraging language learning on smartphones. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(3), 228-233.
Fiello, C. (2012, April 3). Why BYOD? YouTube. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZL4ssuCDRXs
Martin, F., Pastore, R., & Snider, J. (2012). Developing mobile based instruction. TechTrends, 56(5), 46-51. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11528-012-0598-9
Nelson, D. (2012). BYOD: An opportunity schools cannot afford to miss. Internet@Schools, 19(5), 12-15. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1153782427?accountid=11243
Nevoral, Lisa, Suhayl Patel, Shaun Pepper, Scott Tammik, and Tom Whyte. “BYOD Presentation Video.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 Oct. 2012. Web. 13 Nov. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o279Y4u7xDc>.
BYOD strategies. 2012. Tech & Learning 32, (7) (02): 34-37, http://search.proquest.com/docview/920322355?accountid=11243 (accessed November 3, 2013).