The BYOD (bring your own device) trend has become strongly established in the business world in the past several years. Now, it’s beginning to take a stronger hold in the world of education. While the trend actually started in colleges and universities nearly a decade ago, it’s only now becoming more widespread at the middle and high school levels especially with many education majors choosing to get an educational technology degree.
The Impact of BYOD on Education
A recent report released by Bradford Networks produced several key findings on the state of BYOD in education today. Based on the responses of 500 IT professionals from colleges, universities and K-12 school districts across the country the report found:
• There’s wide acceptance for at least some level of BYOD across all educational institutions. Over 85% of all the schools surveyed allow some form of BYOD.
• Technologies being used are diverse, from traditional laptops to all manner of smartphones and tablets.
• Devices are increasingly being integrated into the classroom. Educators are beginning to take advantage of personal mobile devices as part of the learning experience.
• Security is a top concern. Many institutions are beginning to implement security policies and protocols to protect both their networks and users devices.
• Uncertainty over how to manage security, network visibility and control are the biggest obstacles preventing more schools from implementing BYOD programs.
Taking the Next Step
As more schools face budget problems, BYOD is a means to introduce technology into the learning environment at no cost to the institution. As teaching begins to incorporate more technology into the learning process, schools have been struggling to update classrooms with new technology. The BYOD revolution allows students to incorporate their own devices into the learning process and frees teachers to create an environment to enhance the learning process on an individual basis through this technology.
While the challenge of students needing to learn how to use their device before they can begin to learn with their device exists, the enhanced learning experience offered makes education a more personalized and interactive experience. It also further prepares students for employability in the future, as technological prowess becomes a necessary job skill. Recent studies show that students who use their devices for learning can learn much faster than their peers and are consistently performing better on assessments.
Advantages in the Classroom
For teachers, the advantage of their students having devices is nothing short of inspiring. The can have their kids utilize e-textbooks (at a much lower cost), watch relevant videos, use educational apps, do more in depth research online and even complete digital learning projects. The students can explore various creative uses of their technology like digital photography, video creation and editing, word processing and desktop publishing all as part of their learning curriculum and to reinforce their classroom studies. This is known as blended learning. Kids are more interested in learning when technology is involved and this shift towards technology in learning will prepare children for the future job market.
The Challenges of BYOD
While the advantages to BYOD in education are many, there are several challenges to be addressed before large-scale implementation can happen. Chief among these are privacy and security. Institutions need to implement policies to protect student information and work while on their networks. Filtering and blocking certain sites and information, login procedures and policy implementation can be challenging. Schools also need to take into account what will happen when a child forgets their device or if it is taken by another student. Institutions will need to set policies to help students keep track of their devices.
Not all students and their families will be able to afford the cost of a device. Many systems are putting in place fund-raising plans either thru parents associations like the PTA or through private appeals to local businesses to raise money to help families in need. Institutions must put plans in place to make sure all students can have access to the same resources for learning.
Overall, the BYOD revolution in education is growing. The challenges are being met with careful planning and thoughtful policy. BYOD is the future of learning. It’s bringing education into the 21st century and preparing our children for the challenges ahead.