Bring your own
There has been a lot of discussion recently about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in schools. There are two camps forming. On one side, there are those who believe that children should not be permitted to use their own devices in the school because mobile phones are distracting, can cause behaviour management issues and can also lead for example to serious issues such as cyberbullying and sexting. There are also teachers who fear that allowing children to bring their own devices will amplify the socio-economic digital divide - a kind of Bring Your Own Divide. Some children will have the latest, expensive devices while others from less affluent families will have cheaper, less enabled devices, or none at all. Concerns have also been voiced about liability and the potential loss, theft or damage of devices while children are inside the boundaries of the school.
On the other side, there are teachers who believe that allowing children to bring their own devices into school will liberate learning. Supporters of BYOD argue that allowing students to use their own devices, with which they are familiar, will give them a head-start where they don't need to learn to use a tool before learning through it. Children already use their mobile devices for a large variety of social purposes, including networking with their friends, accessing peer-related information and sharing content (images, links, status updates). The argument is that it would be natural for children to use their devices for learning in formalised settings. Teachers who support BYOD argue that children will feel more comfortable using their own devices, that BYOD will teach children to take more responsibility for their actions, and that policing their use should not be problematic.
This is a simplified version of what is shaping up to be a complex debate, but there is a strong case for both sides of the argument. There are of course many grey areas too. Some teachers have no strong views about BYOD, but for those who are actually implementing BYOD in the classroom, there are claims of positive outcomes.
In a post at the end of 2011 I reported on my visit to Albany Senior High School in Auckland, New Zealand, who have been supporting a school wide BYOD scheme for some time. To get around the problem of the perceived 'digital divide' the school also provides laptops and other tools for children who don't have their own personal device. They have also discovered that giving children the responsibility to manage their own learning through their own devices has largely eliminated behavioural problems. Children cherish the freedom to use their own devices, don't wish to run the risk of losing their privilege, and therefore take the responsibility to keep within the school rules seriously.
What are your views on the debate? Do you know of schools that have successfully implemented school-wide BYOD? Do you have stories of BYOD failure?
Image by Freefoto
Bring your own by Steve Wheeler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.