Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – Being Practical About Mobile Learning

Posted: April 9, 2012 in Uncategorized
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BYOD on iPad

For years, the conversation around the integration of more and more technology in teaching and learning often revolved around the high costs associated with purchasing updated equipment and maintaining a sustainable infrastructure.  After all, if, in publicly funded education, if we are going to serve the needs of all students, we need to provide equal access to devices to all students and equal access often comes at a high price – especially when equal access means purchasing computers.

More recently, the conversation has shifted from purchasing computers to purchasing mobile devices.  Whether they are tablet computers, cell phones or media devices, as long as there were ample productivity apps available as well as usable assess to the internet through WiFi, school would be able to better afford the cost of assess to technology and provide opportunities for ’21st Century Learning’ as these devices cost a mere fraction of the price of a computer.  Difficulties still exist with questions of whether students can personalize the devices school lend them, equity issues around providing one device per child (while cheaper than one laptop per child, the cost of providing access to a device for each student in a school is still steep), etc.

Even more recently, we have moved to a new stage in the evolution of 1:1 learning – bring your own device (BYOD).  These days, many children from many income levels are coming to school with devices that have WiFi capability.  Whether they are smart phones or media players, children now have the ability to use modern technology to help them learn as many now bring the devices to school with them everyday.  Suddenly, the costs for 1:1 learning have dropped dramatically as schools and school districts only have to provide WiFi infrastructure and a small number of devices for those students who do not have devices of their own (after all, we are still concerned about issues of equity). In addition, as students have their own personal devices with them all the time, they also have access to learning opportunities with them all the time.  While some may critique that BYOD shifts the financial burden of cost from school districts to already financially burdened families, I would argue that if families are already shouldering that burden, why not let students use the devices to support their own learning?  If families cannot afford to shoulder that burden, schools can still provide devices for students to use while in school.

Where as the conversation was mainly dominated by costs, allowing students to bring their own devices will allow more financial flexibility to schools and school districts. This ultimately shifts the focus from purchasing equipment to teaching acceptable use and integration of technology into day-to-day instruction.  We really are reaching that point of ubiquity in society where access to Internet-enabled devices is becoming less and less of an issue and acceptable use and leveraging them for learning has become more and more important.  The next few years are really going to be exciting as not only are attitudes to leveraging technology finally changing, but greater availability of devices and access to technology tools is now creating an atmosphere where revolutionary changes to teaching and learning are really possible.

  1. Fiona says:

    Thanks for a very interesting read. A new student in my class bought the ebook version of the coursebook we are using and brings her iPad to class. I really do feel it is a landmark. Here’s a link to my blog post:

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  3. Reblogged this on Clarion Collaborative and commented:
    Love the practicality of this post. There are so many ways to fill in the gaps for students who cannot afford a device, but programs that build on existing technology investments make sense! Of course, it involves letting go of some control…

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