Why ‘Bring Your Own Device’ might be your best strategy
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Leadership of Education Technology in Schools
Do BYO strategies require changes to teaching practice?The extent to which a BYO strategy involves changes to your practice depends upon your existing pedagogy and how comfortable you are allowing students to have some agency over their learning. Inevitably, a BYO approach involves students taking on more control of and responsibility for their learning than in a traditional classroom. At the very least, a BYO strategy means that students are responsible for managing their own devices (e.g. making sure that they are charged). A BYO approach means that the school needs to respect that these are the students’ personal devices; if the school tries to take control of them – for example, by banning music or videos being installed on them, or expecting to be able to access a student’s login password – then very quickly students will stop using their personal devices for school tasks.Even where there is good alignment between your pedagogical approach and the use of mobile devices, introducing a BYO strategy needs careful planning and appropriate levels of staff development. It is necessary to ensure that staff, parents and students have a shared understanding of how using mobile devices aligns with the school’s educational mission, vision and goals. This includes addressing potential differences in expectation about issues such as ‘underage’ children having access to Facebook or X-rated games on their personal devices. Negotiating a responsible use policy with students is a good way to develop shared understandings and get buy-in. You may want to agree restrictions on when personal devices may be used – for example, that they be locked away during playtimes, both to avoid potential breakages and to ensure that devices do not dominate. As part of these negotiations you need to agree how inappropriate use will be dealt with – my view being that all inappropriate behaviour should be addressed under the same policies, whether or not mobile devices are involved. For example, whilst online bullying introduces some new issues compared with physical-world bullying, it should still be dealt with as part of the school’s bullying policy, and not as part of a separate digital technology policy.You also need to deal with the pragmatic issues associated with the deployment of mobile devices – for example, ensuring that you have adequate WiFi/internet bandwidth to deal with multiple devices accessing your network simultaneously; setting up a ‘guest’ network for students’ personal devices, which provides internet access but is separate from the school’s intranet; providing secure individual storage for devices; complying with privacy legislation, such as GDPR; meeting the statutory requirements for keeping children safe; ensuring that students’ devices are appropriately insured and have suitable protective cases; and providing sufficient school devices to supplement those brought in by students.Introducing a BYO strategy is not an easy or cheap option – so you need to think carefully about whether it is the best use of your school’s limited resources. The current context in which English schools operate is framed by the National Curriculum and assessment regimes that lend themselves to traditional pedagogical approaches (Twining et al., 2017). The balance of research evidence seems to suggest that such approaches do not benefit from digital technology (Luckin et al., 2012). However, if you want to go beyond the National Curriculum and help prepare students to flourish in the world outside formal education, then investing in the technologies that are a core part of the changes taking place in beyond school is essential. In that context, introducing a BYO strategy is probably the best option.Acknowledgement: I would like to thank Jess Twining for her insightful teacher-eye view of ways in which the article could be improved.
ReferencesBaird A (2012) Good idea? Available at: http://www.learner.org/courses/neuroscience/common_includes/ si_flowplayer.html?pid=2383 (accessed 18 September 2018).BBC (2018) Ofsted chief inspector backs ban on phones in schools. BBC News, 21 June 2018. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-44553705 (accessed 18 September 2018).Luckin R, Bligh B, Manches A et al. (2012) Decoding learning: The proof, promise and potential of digital education. London: Nesta. Available at: https://www.nesta.org.uk/report/decoding-learning/ (accessed 18 September 2018).Smith R (2018) France bans smartphones from schools. CNN World +, 31 July 2018. Available at: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/31/europe/france-smartphones-school-ban-intl/index.html (accessed 18 September 2018).Twining P (2018) 5 reasons why mobile phones should not be banned in schools. In: OU News. Available at: https://ounews.co/education-languages-health/education/5-reasons-why-mobile-phones-should-not-be-banned-in-schools/ (accessed 18 September 2018).Twining P et al. (2017) NP3: New purposes, new practices, new pedagogy: Meta-analysis report. London: Society for Educational Studies. Available at: http://edfutures.net/NP3 (accessed 18 September 2018).This article was originally published in Impact, award-winning peer-reviewed termly journal of the Chartered College of Teaching.
ExamplesIf you’re thinking about this approach for your context, you can see how one secondary school has communicated and managed a BYOD approach for their sixth form in this document
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Leadership of Education Technology in Schools
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