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How can BYOD support modern education?

School budgets are under increasing pressure, with significant sources of finance being cut in real terms; BYOD is one option to combat these issues.

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School budgets are under increasing pressure, with significant sources of finance being cut in real terms. At the same time, schools are being challenged to integrate technology into the classroom, making it a core part of the learning experience, while helping to develop the skills needed by 21st-century employers.

In response, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy could be one of the most important developments in educational technology today, allowing children to bring their own smartphones, laptops, or tablets into lessons.

BYOD is wonderful when it’s done right. We have a great system where if pupils say they are going to bring their own device, they generally do. On the occasions that they don’t, it is noted and if it is a regular occurrence there are consequences for pupils who continuously do so. This helps to ensure that lessons which plan to use collaborative learning are not disrupted. Scott Wieprecht, Head of Year 9, Saltash.net Community School
@mrwieprecht

Key benefits of BYOD

  • By allowing students to use technology the way they do at home, BYOD better reflects their life outside the classroom, and therefore facilitates learning in the most natural way for them.
  • Tomorrow’s employees will use a range of mobile devices. It makes sense for today’s pupils to learn with the tools they need for their future careers.
  • BYOD facilitates learning in and out of the classroom by making it easy for students to continue their learning and access the same teaching materials, on the same device, no matter where they are.
  • BYOD removes some of the financial burden from schools.
  • Pupils like using their own mobile devices. BYOD can help to foster engagement in the classroom, by capitalising on this love of technology.
  • Learning becomes knowledge-driven as BYOD fosters independent problem-solving skills. Students use their devices to ask questions and undertake their own research, rather than just passively listening to a lecture.
  • BYOD gives pupils access to a plethora of online educational resources and the latest web content; ensuring the information they receive is up-to-date.
  • Students use mobile devices to communicate and collaborate with their classmates and their teachers on projects and assignments.

Today, while only 29% of UK secondary schools and 9% of primary schools have implemented some form of BYOD scheme, the initiative is on the increase, with a further 26% of secondary schools thinking about asking pupils to bring their own devices to lessons. In continental Europe, uptake is even greater, with students typically using low-cost Android devices.

While the BYOD policy offers many educational benefits, to work successfully, schools need the right IT infrastructure in place. With schools often falling short when it comes to providing a stable and sufficient internet connection, BYOD does require a level of investment if it is to succeed. However, this lack of IT infrastructure must be addressed if schools want to do more than pay lip service to the benefits of educational technology.

Find out more about battling IT infrastructure issues in your school

A myriad of devices and operating systems could also cause problems for teachers seeking to benefit from BYOD and facilitate collaborative lessons. However, with free teaching and learning tools such as ClassFlow, teachers can use all their educational materials from platforms such as Google Docs, PowerPoint, and other web-based content, on one device-agnostic and cloud-based platform.

As a school where our interactive display provision is very mixed and by this I mean a range of manufacturer brands as well as varied ages of technology BYOD could have potentially been a bit of a nightmare. However, by using ClassFlow we have benefited from a common platform which works well across any of our own technologies as well as connecting the student devices.
Scott Wieprecht, Head of Year 9, Saltash.net Community School
@mrwieprecht

Understandably, many teachers also worry that BYOD will create behavioural problems. However, these fears tend to be unfounded. Teachers often worry that BYOD will create terrible problems with pupils texting and sexting in class and not focusing on lessons. Those who thought it would never work and have tried it for a year have found that pupils can learn the ground rules.
Chris Sessums, programme director for research and evaluation, The Center for Technology in Education, Johns Hopkins University
@csessums

To be truly successful, BYOD needs teachers who know to make the most of it from an educational perspective.

Modern edtech, when used correctly, does not result in a solitary, passive approach to learning. It’s not about pupils using mobile devices in isolation. Instead, technology should be utilised to deliver multi-sensory learning experiences which develop communication and collaboration skills. For example, teachers can assign roles to different pupils, with each child allocated a different responsibility such as using their device to research a topic or write up a report with the students working together in a team. BYOD also allows for the use of mobile educational apps in the classroom, with students using this technology to access videos, news articles, and immersive 3D experiences.

In my personal opinion, too many schools introduce a BYOD system but don’t make the most of it from a pedagogical or technological perspective. Using the devices to conduct personal internet research is not even scratching the surface.
Scott Wieprecht, Head of Year 9, Saltash.net Community School
@mrwieprecht

In conclusion

The BYOD is set to be a key player when it comes to increasing the adoption of technology in education. However, to maximise results, it shouldn’t be used in isolation. Combined with free educational software such as ClassFlow, schools can employ BYOD to meet current budget and innovation challenges head on. As such, educators everywhere should be looking at how they can best implement BYOD into their classrooms and schools and what they need to do this successfully.

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