Essential question: Does every school need a “BYOD” policy?

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BYOD is one of the fastest moving technology trends in the education industry (Martini, 2013). This is a powerful statement whether you are for or against the concept. Peter Martini a writer for te@chthought, lists 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program.

The first challenge – Establishing consistent access on BYOD devices for students and teachers. Each individual user will have to have an identity and a security level set to that identity.

The second challenge – Ensuring bandwidth to mission critical services are not interrupted by BYOD users. School servers need to have the needed bandwidth for daily productivity in the school. Outside devices can not take up cloud space.

The third challenge – Protecting against devices infected with malware. Outside devices can corrupt a schools network; the school will have to focus on fighting malware and viruses.

The fourth and final challenge – Blocking access to restricted applications. Controlling access to websites to maintain student productivity. Districts need to be able to block programs like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, WeeWorld, YouTube, and so on. This access needs to be versatile and controlled by user account. Sometimes it may need to be turned on for research, but for the most part, no.

These challenges are real and continually on my mind, however I like the thought of the concept. To make this a working concept money will have to be put toward the IT side of the school and district.

One of my concerns of the concept are children who do not have a device to bring to class. Donna St. George covers that issue in an article about Fairfax and Prince William Counties who have embraced the concept of BYOD. These school districts began use of BYOD in 2011 and the concept has grown. In an article from The Washington Post, Maribeth Luftglass , assistant superintendent for information technology, points out that students have carried devices in their backpacks for years. “It just wasn’t necessarily official,” she said. Part of the changed thinking, she said, has been to “acknowledge what was happening and embrace it” (St. George, 2014). The school districts believe that the continued use of technology will enhance academic instruction and embrace future endeavors. The big issue was kids not having devices, and it didn’t matter because the students work in groups. The students share devices and also have technology in the classroom to use.

Oak Hills School District in Ohio developed a “BYOD framework” and set up strict acceptable use policy before it launched its BYOD initiative in 2010 (Walsh, 2012). That policy can be seen here at http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/12/making-byod-work-in-schools/

Emma Chadband wrote an article called Should Schools Embrace “Bring Your Own Device”? In it she says “Although some BYOD programs have been successful and district officials insist that they are the best and only available option, many teachers and public education advocates are left wondering, where will BYOD lead? As schools across the country lose potentially more funding, are students and their families now supposed to make up the difference? How will the prevalence of these devices affect the classroom?” (Chadband, 2012). In the same article she discusses there are some benefits like flipped classrooms, and podcasts that students can use, but it all comes back to funding and resources. Another issue she discuses is teacher training, some understand and others don’t. Utilizing the teachers with technology training to train others is a benefit. Chadband sums up the article with “With the proper policies and ground rules in place – and the program doesn’t exist merely to cut costs and corners – BYOD can work for educators and students. If banning mobile devices increasingly becomes an outdated option, districts must ensure that schools have the tools and resources to create safe and constructive learning environments” (Chadband, 2012).

I did find more articles showing benefits than negatives, but for me it all comes down to accessibility. I know that I shouldn’t compare my district to the rest of the nation, but in reality I can only speak for my here and now. And here and now, my students don’t have access to any of this technology, and my district doesn’t have the money to make this a reality.  It is hard to  not be biased but this is mine and their reality.  So for me no, not every school needs a BYOD policy.

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References:

Holeywell, R. (September 3, 2013). BYOD Policies, Growing More Popular, Create Challenges for Schools. Retrieved from http://www.governing.com/blogs/view/gov-byod-policies-create-school-challenges.html

Martini, P. (December 22, 2013). 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program. Retrieved from http://www.teachthought.com/technology/4-challenges-can-cripple-schools-byod-program/

St. George, D. (September 14, 2014). Schools move toward ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies to boost student tech use. Retrieved from http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/stem/schools-move-toward-bring-your-own-device-practices-to-boost-student-tech-use/2014/09/14/4d1e3232-393e-11e4-9c9f-ebb47272e40e_story.html

Walsh, K. (December 16, 2012). Making BYOD Work in Schools – Three School Districts That Have Figured it Out. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/12/making-byod-work-in-schools/

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