The 30-second briefing: What is BYOD?

19th October 2016 at 18:13
Smart phones in school
What is a "bring your own device" policy and should your school be introducing one? Teacher educator Sarah Wright answers these questions and more in the latest installment in her series of quick explainers

What is BYOD?

BYOD is yet another education acronym. It stands for “bring your own device” and is a term originally coined by a technology company who wanted to encourage employees to bring their own mobile devices – whether phones or tablets − to use at work.

What has this got to do with teaching?

Schools are increasingly adopting a BYOD approach, particularly secondary schools. The idea is that the learner will have the opportunity to access all of the learning benefits that come from using mobile devices while working on a device that they feel comfortable with.

Would it work at primary level too?

A growing number of primary schools are adopting BYOD policies, probably due to shrinking budgets. But adopting the approach with younger children can be risky. A BYOD policy often states that learners are responsible for the safety of their own devices. While you can quite reasonably ask this of a year nine student, it is not quite the same if you teach year 3.

However, that doesn’t mean that BYOD should be ruled out for primary.

Will I need to ask parents to buy specific devices for children? That will go down like a lead balloon…

No. A BYOD policy should never encourage the purchase of devices, but only making use of technology that students already own. The policy should provide for the inclusion of students who do not have their own devices, perhaps by allowing that a small number of school-purchased devices are available to support the policy.

If I am going to let students have their phones out in my lessons, how do I know that they will be using them responsibly?

A real focus on digital citizenship and e-safety should be at the heart of a good BYOD policy. If you are planning to introduce BYOD, it is essential that you also work to promote responsible use of technology at a whole-school level.

BYOD requires students to have a good understanding of the purposeful and productive use of technology. Not only is this understanding a key part of the curriculum, it is also essential for modern life.

Should I try it?

BYOD is a whole-school decision and not one that can be taken lightly. There are factors outside of teaching and learning that need to be considered carefully, such as whether the school infrastructure can manage so many devices.

It also requires an investment in terms of staff development. Simply asking children to bring devices doesn’t guarantee a strong use of technology. Staff need to be trained, supported and confident in a policy like this before you even begin to think about implementing it. 

Sarah Wright is a senior lecturer at Edge Hill University. She tweets as @Sarah__wright1

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