The holidays are approaching and that means an increase in the number of student-owned electronic devices come January. BYOD (bring your own device) or BYOT (bring your own technology) gives students the option of borrowing electronic devices from the school or using their own equipment. The theory is that allowing students to use technology they are familiar with encourages participation in the classroom. The concerns are that students will be easily distracted and likely to find ways around restrictions on banned and social networking sites. Implementation would also widen the already significant tech gap for lower income students. Gary Stenger author of BYOD: Worst Idea of the 21st Century? argued that it “enshrines inequity.” The benefits to schools are obvious since more funding can be directed toward other technology like SMART Boards and networking. But what is the impact on the classroom teacher?
Less schoolwide bans on devices, more school climate initiatives! suggests that banning technology devices is fruitless and an “If I see it, you lose it” policy is best. The author lists these advantages of letting students use their own phones, tablets, etc.:
- Students can use their devices to conduct research
- Using their cell phones, they can participate in audience response systems (clickers or live polling)
- Teachers can make interactive assignments allowing students to use their cameras and/or photo or video sharing sites
- Use games like Angry Birds to teach physics, math or other principles
- Assignments can be stored in the cloud
- Playing background music (through ear buds) in order to focus and block out distraction
- Skyping with students in other schools/countries.
A BYOD program being implemented at a district in Minnesota is dubbed Copernicus, for its “attempt to put students at the center of our technology integration.”
Your network administrator can set up separate zones for different network uses (administrative uses, bookkeeping, grades, etc.) in order to avoid a drain by multiple devices on network. Also, bandwidth can be limited at certain times of the day. Instead of having students store information on the network drives, create accounts for online (cloud) storage of student work such as Google Docs, Edmodo, netTrekker or Dropbox.
Personal security for devices must also be assured. Make sure that if students are separated from their devices (e.g., switching classrooms, gym, after-school sports) that rooms are locked or devices are stored in secured cabinets.
A school policy for BYOD must be created and enforced (see sample policies below).
Funding individual devices
Schools can find creative ways to bridge the tech divide. Lisa Nielson, “The Innovative Educator” suggests Ideas for Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) Even If You Are Poor (for more tips see Lisa’s book Teaching Generation Text):
- Outreach with local business for donations of upgraded equipment they might otherwise be throwing out.
- Craigslist/Facebook -- students can use social media to announce that they are in need of a device that someone might be throwing away.
- Establish a mentoring program. Mentors will often act as advocates, helping students acquire needed supplies.
- Tweet for Tech – use your social network to spread the word about need in your district.
- More schools are looking at leasing as an affordable alternative to purchasing; the upside is the ability to swap out equipment when the technology becomes obsolete.
- Community Tech Day --invite the community to come to your school and donate technology for children in need.
Rules for BYOD use
The Cyberbullying Research Center has created a list of Formal Rules for Students and their Devices at School, which includes laptops, cell phones, personal data assistants, portable electronic games, digital audio players, digital cameras, and gaming wristwatches.
1. Students must have all portable electronic devices turned off except during prescribed times.
2. Students may not use any device to photograph or record (either in audio or video format) another person on school property at any time without that person’s permission.
3. Any unauthorized use of portable electronic devices will lead to confiscation.
4. Any confiscated portable electronic device may be searched by parents or law enforcement as necessary. (See also Confiscating Cell Phones from Students at School and Cell Phone Search Checklist for School Administrators).
5. Students who violate this policy may also be subject to disciplinary action as noted in the student handbook.
You can find additional policies from the South Western School District and Forsyth County Schools or try one of these Eleven Sample Education BYOT Policies To Help You Create Your Own.
A checklist for getting started
- Have you informed your tech department that there will be multiple outside devices on the network?
- Have you sent out information to parents about the BYOD program? (Download a sample parent letter.)
- Do you have enough devices available via the district to students who don’t own or forget to bring their device. Assess your student readiness for BYOT.
- Do you have the proper logins and passwords for guest devices?
- Have you tested the cloud-based applications you want to use on various devices?
- Do you have lesson plans accessible for substitutes and have you tested your lessons?
- Have your students/parents signed off on the acceptable use policy as well as a waiver for theft, loss or damage to student-owned devices?
Some additional items of interest come from Pamela Livingston in Bring Your Own Device - Questions to Consider:
- Visit a BYOD school or district.
- Determine how you will define BYOD. Will there be a minimum device or specification?
- Address logistics.
- Use the acronym LARK (legal, appropriate, responsible, kind) to evaluate your technology use.
An excellent downloadable handbook is One-to-One 2.0 Building on the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) Revolution.
Curriculum planning for BYOD
Once you’re convinced that BYOD would work in your classroom, and you have permissions and guidelines in place, it’s time to create your lesson plans. In How Would I Prepare to Teach a BYOD class? the author suggests you:
- Create a class blog (for assignments, collaboration, sharing and preservation of activities and a record of student growth).
- Create a “Hand-It-In form” that includes name, assignment, links to research sites, and assessment rubrics.
- Communicate via a private social media group (try Swaggle).
- Set up a group site for document sharing.
- Create class or assignment tags for easy searching.
- Create a diigo or Delicious account to aggregate links.
- Create a Flickr account.
- Create a list of apps you’d like every student to have (ask for student input; also see Eleven BYOD Apps that Keep the Focus on Content and 70 BYOT/BYOD Resources).
- Assign a different student to publish to the blog each week.
The Bring Your Own Device Toolkit from the K-12 Blueprint: A Planning Resource for Personalizing Learning includes downloadable resources for: Getting Started with BYOD; Planning and Implementation Framework; BYOD Implementation Challenges; Mobile Scenarios for K-12; Mobile Learning: the Next Wave of K-12 Education Innovation; Exemplar BYOD Presentations; District Readiness Checklist; Teacher Readiness Checklist; BYOD Case Studies; BYOD: Sample Acceptable Use Policies; BYOD and COPPA; and BYOD Fairs Put Power of Education Technology on Display.
Pinterest is rapidly becoming a teacher’s best online archive. The BYOT Pinterest Board is overflowing with policies, resources, security suggestions, infographics, videos and case studies.
Web 2.0 Resources for BYOT Programs is a collection of web 2.0 tools categorized by subject. With nearly 40 topics from which to choose, you are bound to find helpful information as you put BYOD into use in your school or classroom.
Patricia Bruder, president of Linchpin Solutions LLC, consults for the Educational Information and Resource Center (EIRC) located at the South Jersey Tech Park at Rowan University, Mullica Hill. EIRC is a public agency specializing in education-related programs and services for teachers, parents, schools, communities, and non-profit organizations throughout New Jersey. Learn more about EIRC at www.eirc.org or call 856-582-7000. Contact Patricia Bruder at firstname.lastname@example.org.