Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies arose out of a natural technological trend: Students and educators alike started to bring their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops to school. At first, it may have been just for recreation outside of the classroom, but soon people realized the benefits of BYOD for teaching and learning.
According to EdTech, 85 percent of educational institutions allowed students, faculty, and staff to use personal devices on their school network in 2013. That number is likely even higher now. The key to successfully harnessing the power of BYOD is coming up with a policy that keeps tech use productive, not to mention beefing up school network security and IT resources so it can handle the influx of devices. If schools can do that, they’re poised to reap the rewards of this technological opportunity.
Here are four benefits to BYOD policies in the classroom.
Helpful Device Familiarity
Instead of getting used to an OS or PC device at home, then coming to school and having to switch gears, just to go back home and work from the preferred device, students can streamline their tech use. Instead of just seeing a phone, tablet or a device to accomplish a certain goal, they can explore how it fits into a larger context: computing, learning, creating, writing, etc.
As Wired points out, writing was a brand-new technology at its advent. What if people would have resisted and ignored writing? It would be simply unthinkable now. That’s exactly how using mobile technology is—a new frontier for connecting, synthesizing and deep learning.
Versatile Classroom Use
One of the biggest perks of successfully implementing a BYOD policy in your classroom is the sheer versatility. You can personalize students’ lesson plans, give them access to their grades, or ask them to collaborate on projects. You can foster deep learning and beneficial review sessions using a classroom response system like Poll Everywhere; on their chosen devices, students can answer polls, earn participation points and provide feedback to help you refine your teaching methods. You can screen videos, assign digital art projects or kick off research units. There are very few limits to the far-reaching potential of BYOD.
BYOD Can Be Budget-Friendly
A BYOD policy is only as solid as its equity. Of course, some students will not have easy access to their own devices or an internet connection at home. It’s important for schools to recognize this and give all students the same opportunities, but it can be a win-win because instead of buying enough devices for every single student, schools can build a loaner inventory for those that cannot BYOD. Schools can also consider providing a stipend for families who qualify.
This way, all students can incorporate mobile devices into their learning. At the same time, schools can streamline their tech budget and re-allocate the funds that would have been spent on devices for every student on security, IT infrastructure or an unrelated use.
Seamless Career Preparation
Career outlooks and required skills for your students will look very different from the generations that went before. Falling behind on tech use can complicate continuing education or entry into the job market. As technology services firm Marco writes, “When students learn to collaborate and work with a variety of programs, they are developing valuable digital literacy skills that will prove invaluable in the workplace.”
Starting early just gives your students an advantage! By the time they graduate, they’ll be ready to tackle complex problem solving using technology, which is a huge asset in any industry.
BYOD policies present security and accessibility challenges up front, but it’s worthwhile to come up with an official policy and roll it out at a pace your institution can handle. Why? These four benefits to a good BYOD program are just the tip of the iceberg; your students will enjoy the versatile learning and the chance to use devices they already know and love.