As school budgets are slashed to combat challenging economic times, intellectually savvy educators are becoming increasingly creative in devising ways to ensure education stays with the times. One way they’ve made certain kids have access to modern technology is by letting them utilize their own equipment, should they have it.
This Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is a strong one, with 85 percent of collegiate and K-12 educational institutions responding to a recent survey in the affirmative when asked if students are able to take advantage of their own devices on campus. While 89 percent of colleges reported they allow BYOD, only 44 percent of K-12 institutions responded the same way. But 84 percent of those institutions that do not allow BYOD said they have received frequent requests to do so.
With tightened budgets, it seems as though it’s inevitable that K-12 institutions will join their collegiate brethren in adopting BYOD policies. With this in mind, let’s take some time to debunk three myths which might cause schools to hold back on allowing BYOD:
1. BYOD Pushes the Less Fortunate Further Back
By not allowing students who have devices that can help them receive a better education use those devices, school districts are effectively taking away tools that can help that child succeed. Devices can still be acquired for less fortunate students either by soliciting private donations, asking businesses to donate their used devices or holding fundraisers to supplement a portion of a slashed tech budget. In addition to that, students who bring their own devices give students who don’t have their own devices greater access to the school’s resources.
“Students who do not have personal technology devices have greater access to school-owned technology tools when students who bring their own devices to school are no longer competing for that access,” explains one district instructional technology specialist.
Other research shows that children of low income parents are just as likely as their high income parental counterparts to own smartphones.
2. BYOD Will Distract from Learning
Students could certainly be distracted with Internet access if they’re given no direction. But teachers are finding ways to prevent that distraction by incorporating technology into lesson plans. In a recent survey, 73 percent of teachers said they let students use cell phones or tablets in class to finish assignments. It’s important to set boundaries, making sure students know when they are allowed to use their devices and when they aren’t. Teachers should also implement reasonable consequences for violating those boundaries.
With unified communications tools, students are able to collaborate with their peers no matter where they might be on campus. With instant messaging and presence features, students are able to collaborate on projects when they have the free time to do so—something which accelerates the learning process instead of hindering it. BYOD enables learning outside of the classroom.
3. Teachers Aren’t IT Professionals
Some opponents to BYOD say that teachers will have to serve as IT professionals to make sure every student’s devices are working appropriately. With problems like fragmentation, this could be a potentially worrisome proposition. But teachers only have to become experts on one device and one platform. The students are the experts on their own devices. If someone’s having a problem, it’s likely another student in the room would be able to help.