Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers learners being able bring any mobile computing device in to school and connect it to the school network, so long as they have registered the device in advance with the school. This usually involves registering the MAC address of the device with the school. The school restricts access to the network and manages which facilities the pupil/device can utilise.
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Bring your own device (BYOD) programmes are based upon the premise that mobile devices are in widespread use among young people (CoSN, 2012). Some 77% of (US) teenagers (12-17 years old) have mobile phones, and around 25% have a smartphone. Some 75% o all teens text, 63% say they text every day (Waxman, 2012). Schools can benefit from using these devices in class because the students are already familiar with them, so removing the need for technical familiarisation (Azzurri, 2011). Furthermore, Ofsted (2011) points out that BYOD can engage students and parents in learning at school and at home.
BYOD is seen as having great potential to bring a range of benefits to learning. For instance, flexibility of BYOD not only helps bridge formal and informal learning but also allows learners to construct their own learning environments as well as providing opportunities to get real-time feedback (CoSN, 2012). In this regard, the notion of BYOD can challenge the prevailing approach to school infrastructure (Livingstone, 2012) and teaching. It can bring about a change to instruction – kids can do a lot of learning on their own while the teachers monitor progress and keep students on task (Mindshift, 2012). Teachers and students can discuss the capability of technology and find creative solutions, or students can become technology experts and so free up teachers to focus on content (Bartelt, 2012) and (Nielsen, 2011). However, the prevailing views that teachers' need to control the classroom can make them favour district-funded technology rather than BYOD (Russell, 2012).
BYOD can offer potential savings, but these can be less than expected (Azzurri, 2011). Ofsted (2011) does see this as a way of reducing pressure on hard-pressed school budgets and one US school has claimed savings of $1.27m through BYOD and a virtual desktop system which can be accessed through any device students or teachers bring into school (Lepi, 2012). BYOD is also considered as a lower-cost route to 1 to 1 computing. For example, if the BYOD concept is employed, the school district requires to buy devices only for those students who don't have them (Quillen, 2010). BYOD can mean overhauling the curriculum and spending money for training teachers, though it does help students create a more personal and memorable learning experience (Lepi, 2012).
It is important to note that the school's technical infrastructure needs to be robust to support BYOD, otherwise the network can slow considerably at busy times (Oak Hills School District, 2012) and (Schachter, 2012). An upgrade to the school's network can add considerably to costs, so sources of additional finance will need to be found (Mindshift, 2012), otherwise network expansion can greatly reduce any savings (Schachter, 2012).
BYOD does raise various issues around equity and the digital divide – what is to be done about those who can't afford their own devices ? Azzurri (2011), Nielsen (2011) and Schaffhauser (2011). Some are concerned that there may be a stigma associated with the use of school-provided devices (CoSN, 2012) or that jealousy may encourage a technological keeping-up-with-the-Joneses (Walsh, 2012b). On one large programme, some teachers seemed reluctant to use BYOD if everybody didn't have a device of their own (Mindshift, 2012). Some critical voices are reported as saying that BYOD pushes costs to families that should be met by government and that it may exacerbate the digital divide. "What next," says one, "bring your own desk." (Waxman, 2012).
As with other educational uses of technology, schools and districts need to revisit their acceptable use policies. If students or teachers own their own devices, network security and privacy are brought into conflict (Azzurri, 2011). There is a potential need to move from Acceptable use policies to Responsible use policies, an approach designed to treat the student as a person (CoSN, 2012). Educational use of students own devices is seen as influencing out-of-school use (CoSN, 2012). In one programme, out-of-class use was seen as a part of 'digital citizenship' – enabling students to model when it was appropriate to use a device and when not – (Mindshift, 2012), and in another misuse was reported as being rare (Bush, 2012).
BYOD e-safety considerations
Recent news articles strongly suggested that by banning students from bringing in their mobile phones, schools can dramatically reduce cyberbullying and raise pupil attainment. See, for example,a newspaper article about a school that has "outlawed" mobile phones. But is it as simple as that? There are several factors to consider:
- It has long been known that online behaviour tends to mirror offline behaviour, and that those pupils most at risk of abuse in the physical world tend to be so in the virtual world as well (UNESCO 2012). Therefore simply banning mobile phones is not necessarily a long-term solution.
- This is reflected in one of the comments in the report by Carrick-Davies (2012): "There are very real, risky online situations which vulnerable young people are accessing through their mobile phones such as, offline crime, cyberbullying, unauthorised status updating,17 and pranks. However, to simply view the risks that vulnerable young people are encountering online as an isolated or ‘out of school’ problem, which can be sorted by simply banning access to technology within an educational establishment, is clearly both inaccurate and short-sighted."
- There are risks associated with the use of mobile phones, and indeed mobile technology in general. Dr Brian Bandy (2012a and 2012b), in Linked-In discussions, says this is partly due to the fact that "non-legitimate" activity on such devices is indistinguishable from legitimate activity, which means that human monitoring will never be adequate. He also sets out the legal requirements regarding risk assessment. (Although, as this is a relatively new development, it is doubtful whether all the potential risks (and benefits) have come to light or can be foreseen. Also, it is arguable that all technology involves risk, including pencils.)
However, the current UK legislation appears not to insist that risk is completely eliminated by banning the activity carrying the risk, but to manage and minimise the risk: "Children should be able to experience a wide range of activities. Health and safety measures should help them to do this safely, not stop them." (DfE, 2012)
There is also a risk involved in banning technology if that entails not teaching pupils how to use it safely. This is put very succinctly by Carrick-Davies: "In 10 years’ time, when constant connection is built into appliances, clothes and even our physical environment (what is termed the ‘internet of things’), will young people be equipped to handle this ubiquitous connection if we don’t start piloting new ways of widening trust and responsibility now?"
Technological banning or monitoring of pupils' phone-related activities is also difficult from a technical point of view. Also, pupils are prone to find ways around such restrictions anyway, such as by carrying two phones, one of which is for purely sacrificial purposes. As the Carrick-Davies report observes: "It is clear that the banning and restricting of personal mobile devices within education settings is difficult, and without body scanners near impossible. Teachers report pupils having more than one phone (so handing one in is just a cover). As one teacher described it “You just create an arms race” between trying to block and restrict and it becomes an “unwinnable war”."
- Some schools have adopted what is called a Responsible Use Policy for the use of mobile technology. The RUP differs from the standard AUP in that it seeks to put the onus more on students to "do the right thing", as opposed to merely imposing a set of rules. Some schools have even had the students themselves draw up the RUP. See, for example, Freedman (2012).
For a note about 'vicarious liability', see the paragraph about the Watching App on the Mobile Learning page.
Bandy, B 2012a Linked-in discussion
Bandy, B 2012b Linked-in discussion
Carrick-Davies, S: "Munch, Poke, Ping: Vulnerable Young People, Social Media and E-Safety"
Freedman, T 2012: BYOD Case Study: Wildern School
Other useful references
See this publication from the Information Commissioner's Office (2013): Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
- Archbishop LanFranc School
- The Arnewood School Academy
- Finborough School
- BYOD at George Spencer Academy
- 5 steps to embedding mobile learning - Paul Hynes, George Spencer Academy
- Another case study of the George Spencer Academy
- BYOD at Great Ormond Street Hospital School
- Invicta Grammar School
- Katy Independent School District
- Les Quennevais School
- Scargill Junior School
- St Crispin's School
- Sheffield High School
- Tideway School
- BYOD at Wildern School
- BYOD at Saltash.net Community School
The following is an example of a BYOT (as opposed to BYOD) case study -- but then it is a college: BYOT Case Study -- New College, Swindon
Magazine article in which schools review how their BYOD initiatives have worked out 'one year on'
Russell Prue talks about BYOD
Or watch the video on YouTube:
Russell Prue may be contacted through Anderton Tiger
Allen Independent School District (2011) Guide to BYOD for students, teachers and parents.
Azzurri (2011) Decision Makers' Guide: Developing a Bring You Own Device (BYOD) strategy. Azzurri Communications
Bartelt (2012) Recommendations for Personal Mobile Technology Devices in K-12 Schools. Policy Paper. Educational Policy Institute of California (EPIC).
Bush (2012) Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) at Saltash.net. BYOD Case Study.
CoSN (2012) Making Progress: Rethinking State and School District Policies Concerning Mobile Technologies and Social Media. Policy Paper. Consortium for School Networking Initiative (CoSN).
Lepi (2012) 10 Real-World BYOD Classrooms (And Whether It’s Worked Or Not). edudemic blog post.
Livingstone (2012) BYOD Questions to Consider. Blog post: 1 to 1 schools.
Mindshift (2012) How to Launch a successful BYOD Program. Blog post, 5-Sept-2012.
Nevell (2012) 'Bring Your Own Device' program launches at Chatham school. BYOD Case Study.
Nielsen (2011) 7 Myths About BYOD Debunked. THE Journal.
Oak Hills School District (2012) Oak Hills e-Learning Portfolio. BYOD Case Study.
Ofsted (2011) ICT in schools 2008–11.
Quillen (2010) Schools Open Doors to Students' Mobile Devices. Education Week.
Schachter (2012) Creating a robust and safe BYOD program. District Administration.
Schaffhauser (2011) ABCs of BYOL. THE Journal.
Russell (2012) Bring-your-own technology and one-to-one initiatives in Missouri schools in 2012. Thesis.
Walsh (2012b) 5 Reasons Why BYOD is a Bad Idea. Blog Post.
Waxman (2012) Texting 1, 2, 3: Schools Test ‘Bring Your Own Technology’ Programs. Time.
Could the whole BYOD/BYOT 'bandwagon' be thwarted by the comments made by the Chief Inspector, Ofsted, by Sir Michael Wilshaw? He said, in a radio interview:
"Certainly when I was a head in East London, I made a very clear and unequivocal decision that I didn’t want mobile phones brought into school - they cause too many problems, youngsters were bullied in school through text bullying, .... often when they left to go home they were picked upon by others and their mobile phones taken away."
This has been widely interpreted as a statement that Ofsted will seek to ban the use of mobile phones in the classroom. For interesting views on this, see Trying to stop the tide and End of the line?. Terryfreedman
Guides to implementing BYOD
Lovely infographics on BYOD - Going BYOD. It covers the reasons for going BYOD, cost aspects, who has gone down the BYOD route, and the pros and cons of doing so. - Reena
How to make BYOD work for your schools - an article in eSchool News in which folk (in the Forsyth County Schools in Georgia) who have experience of BYOD share strategies for what works. Includes info on Responsible Use Policies, etc.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Guidebook: The Practical Guide to 1 to 1 Success. Classlink (2012). You have to register (name & email address) to access it.
Alberta Government (2012) Bring Your Own Device: A guide for schools. Download (accessed 12-Nov-2012)
Heppell & Chapman (2011) - Report on a project that aimed to help bridge the divide between schools that were engaging with mobile technologies and social networking and those that were 'locking and blocking'. The report is based on accounts of what is working in some schools, from the teachers involved. Areas addressed in the report include: mobile phones, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Walsh (2012) Making BYOD Work in Schools - Three school districts that have figured it out. Emerging Ed Tech blog post. Links to Oak Hill local school district 10 step guide to implementing BYOD. Also refers to Allen Independent School District and Katy Independent School District approaches. http://www.emergingedtech.com/2012/12/making-byod-work-in-schools/
BYOD blog post from JISC. 23-nov-2012
Stuff to add
Cybrary Man's BYOD (and BYOT) links has links to lots of websites with info about BYOD and BYOT.
Schools make a move to BYOD - an article on the 'inevitable' move to BYOD in Australian schools.
NEN's 3 page strategic guidance on BYOD contains good high level pointers re things to think about, plus links to other sources of info.