BYOD: A Highly Polarized Educational Topic

Written by Vickie Moller  |  29. November 2012

Last month, the Western Suffolk BOCES, the Nassau BOCES and the Eastern Suffolk BOCES, in partnership with NYSCATE, hosted Long Island Tech Summit 2012 in Melville. The summit, themed “Critical Thinking, Problem Solving and Decision Making,” focused on the use of technology to improve the quality of student research; information fluency skills; and sharing new ideas, innovations and trends.

Among the presentations conducted at the summit by members of the educational technology team of the New York Comprehensive Center (NYCC) was “Refocusing the Lens: Creating Engaging Learning Communities after Bring Your Own Device Implementation.” The presentation focused on learning environments that honor student technology in a Bring Your Own Device program.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in education refers to students bringing their own technology devices (smartphones, tablets and laptops) to school for educational purposes. The idea, which originated in colleges, quickly spread to K-12 education.

According to the NYCC, the implementation of BYOD programs has become a highly polarized subject in the educational community with staunch advocates on either end. Based on the success of early adopters of BYOD programs, it is likely that more will be implemented in the near future.

Consequently, participants at the summit examined the benefits and challenges of BYOD, why schools and districts are adopting BYOD programs and considered creative curricular BYOD practices.

The benefits of BYOD that were discussed included:

  • more students will have access to technology in the classroom, and that technology will be more up to date
  • students will be more apt to engage in classroom learning and take ownership of their studies if they are using their own technology
  • technology follows students, who do not stop learning when they leave the classroom
  • students will begin to reassess personal technology as a means of learning, rather than merely communication or entertainment and media consumption devices
  • school districts whose budgets preclude them from making technology purchases will benefit from BYOD

Acceptable student use of shared network resources was also examined, along with issues of security, device support and appropriate forms of communication.

Implementation concerns were also considered, including: which devices to recommend for student use, device fragmentation, the ability of existing network infrastructures to handle the additional load of so many student devices and safeguarding students against theft and personal property damage. Professional development for teachers who feel that their students are more technologically savvy than they are was also addressed.

Additionally, questions about access and equity were covered, which included how students who cannot afford technology will participate in classrooms that rely heavily on BOYD.

As schools and districts consider the pros and cons of implementing BYOD, a survey of 500 college students was conducted that found 67 percent can't go more than an hour without using some sort of digital technology and 40 percent can't go more than 10 minutes. The independently-conducted survey was prepared for CourseSmart, which sells e-textbooks on behalf of leading publishers. The survey found that students today are more likely to bring a laptop than a textbook to class.

In this environment, the hotly-debated topic of BYOD is not going away, and there will be much more to cover in future articles as the story unfolds in our Long Island schools.

What is your opinion about BYOD. Share your ideas on our Long Island Living Forum!

SOURCES: nycomprehensivecenter.org, educatorstechnology.com, insidehighered.com

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