1:1 Computing in the Classroom
The benefits of computers in the classroom continues to receive increased attention, and many school boards or districts agree that there are times when classrooms require a 1:1 ratio of computers to students. Educators who are comfortable with a variety of digital devices and computer platforms believe that these tools should be available in the classroom as readily as pencils and textbooks. As today’s students begin to rely more and more on computers and tablets to help them research, create, and produce their projects or homework assignments, teachers in the classroom would like to see an increase in available devices. In fact, some school boards and educators believe that each child must have daily access to a digital device. However, due in large part to budget restrictions, it is not feasible for every student to have regular 1:1 access to a computer. As personal digital devices become more powerful, capable of more than simply retrieving information and texting or messaging, school boards and districts begin to look at BYOD in order to increase access to technology and the internet in the classroom.
BYOD – A Simple Solution?
BYOD is an acronym for Bring Your Own Device. BYOD encourages students to bring in their own mobile devices, smartphones, e-readers, tablets, and laptops. At first, BYOD may sound like a simple solution to a persistent problem… students bring whatever device they have to school, and those students without a personal device will use the computers available in the classroom. If that was true, every school would enforce a BYOD policy. However, there is nothing simple about BYOD! There are mixed opinions about this practice, making it a slow process for school boards to implement it. A BYOD policy needs to be developed with many factors in mind, beginning with a close look at the school’s digital infrastructure, and teacher proficiency in regards to technology. One of the primary concerns BYOD raises is that of equity, particularly in elementary schools where only some students have their own devices. In this article (Part 1 of a series of 2 on BYOD), I focus on the advantages and disadvantages of BYOD.
Advantages and Disadvantages of BYOD
- Greater possibility for 1:1 ratio
- Students use devices they are familiar with, organizing content, and making it portable
- Familiar platforms are used as tools in problem based learning
- Students can share ideas and resources with each other
- Collaboration among peers
- Increase in student engagement
- Access to information anytime
- Education using 21st century norms
- Students access the internet through the safety of the school network
- Teachers are available to guide students as they learn to navigate through social networks and web-based resources
- Increased opportunity for professional development
- Teachers are motivated to learn new instructional practices
- Increased ability to differentiate instruction, tasks assigned, and assessment
- Expenses are shared among parents, schools, and districts
- Schools benefit from buying in bulk or corporate donations, footing part of the bill for each student
- In the long run, expensive text books will be replaced by inexpensive digital e-books
- Many parents are unable or unwilling to provide personal devices for their children
- Students compare devices; inequities become evident among students
- Theft/damage is a possibility
- Devices lose charge or are forgotten at home
- Possibility of increased cyberbullying
- Students may attempt to access inappropriate content through 3G or 4G networks
- Lessons must be tailored to fit the devices with the lowest capabilities
- Teachers may not be prepared to instruct across different platforms
- Schools are unable to provide tech support for many different devices
- Professional development for all teachers is a costly necessity
- Not all teachers believe that computers are necessary tools in the classroom – buy in is a must for BYOD to succeed
- The school’s infrastructure may not support the network requirements for devices for each student
- Enabling schools with sufficient Wi-Fi is very expensive
Making BYOD Work
As I conducted my research on BYOD, it became increasingly evident that for every possible disadvantage, there was an equally potent advantage. BYOD is not a movement that should be ignored by sceptics, but rather, examined closely and carefully. In order to ensure equitable, efficient, and safe practices in a BYOD environment, several rules and support systems must be established, including: professional development for all staff; clearly stated rules and responsibilities for students; and, regular communication with parents. Our students’ socio-economic situations vary from district to district, and within districts, from school to school. BYOD can work, but must be carefully planned, utilizing a model that suits each school best. The reality is, school boards do not have infinite funds. However, asking all parents to provide a device for students is not feasible either. As we move forward, digital devices will become more affordable, and depending on the school, a BYOD policy can be developed to suit the needs of the community served.
In Part 2 of this series on BYOD, I will provide resources and information for administrators and districts interested in developing a BYOD policy which addresses their students’ needs.
Photo by tribehut
Bustillos, Joe. “Disruptive Ed Tech: The BYOD Option.” (Video)
Devaney, Laura. “How to Make BYOD work for Your Schools.” eSchool News October 2012.
Fingal, Diana. “Is BYOD the Answer to Our Problems or the Worst Idea Ever?” Learning and Leading With Technology. Vol. 39, No. 5: 5 February 2012
LaMaster, Jen and Stager, Gary “Point and Counterpoint: Should Students Use Their Own Devices in the Classroom?” Learning and Leading With Technology. Vol. 39, No. 5: 6 & 7 February 2012
Stager, Gary. “BYOD – Worst Idea of the 21st Century?” Stager-to-Go (Blog) October 2011.