The same mobile devices that teachers once had an objection to using in the classroom are now becoming an integral part of the education system. From laptops to tablets, smartphones to even wearables, schools and universities are trying to see how they can better integrate technology into the learning environment. And BYOD is a feasible and effective, and increasingly popular, way to do so.
For the uninitiated, BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. A concept that has been adopted by organizations big and small as a way to cut down costs, inculcate greater accountability and enable more flexibility. Now, the same approach is being considered, if not already implemented, by schools and educational institutions across the globe.
And why not? In today’s world, people are hardly without a device – be it a laptop or a smartphone. Personal computing devices and the ease of internet access have made it easier to acquire information anywhere, anytime. Why then should the way we impart education today be any different?
Like every new adaption, BYOD comes with challenges. Not just for parents and teachers, but also IT departments in schools. For parents, the primary concern is the consumption and even creation of unsuitable content. Unmonitored digital connectivity can lead to distractions through games, entertainment and social networking. Further, not all students might be able to bring their own devices. And different devices might encourage bullying and bring in the unwanted presence of social status.
On the other hand, a lot of teachers and schools are still resistant to the use of mobile technology in the classroom. Many teachers are not yet familiar with using technology to teach. Personal devices mean teachers have to learn to work with every device to assist students in class. Schools will therefore have to invest in training their faculty.
Moreover, to become technologically capable, schools need a sound IT infrastructure. BYOD definitely helps in cutting costs since the school does not have to provide devices to every student. However, it involves hurdles like managing different Operating Systems, ensuring seamless connectivity across devices and most importantly, tackling high security risks. This is where the IT department comes in. Schools need to be equipped with the expertise to manage devices, connectivity and security, or the effectiveness of technology will be drastically reduced.
In the bigger picture, these are all challenges that can be overcome, and overcome well. The use of technology in our lives is only increasing, and to not integrate much less acknowledge it might mean slowing down progress.
Children can be taught how to use technology more effectively so that it encourages valuable creation and consumption. Tools and policies can be implemented to manage content access and device security. Resources like ebooks and video tutorials can be leveraged to compliment traditional forms of learning rather than replace them. Schools can focus on funding devices for students who cannot afford their own. As parents, you can show children how you use technology for knowledge in your life, and how to use it responsibly. The key is to associate technology with learning early on in the child’s life.
Children today love devices and taking advantage of that to encourage learning is a wise move. Real-time access and interconnectedness are not just empowering societies but they make learning easier. The scope of learning is limitless because we can teach children real-world skills that prepare them for the future, instead of sticking to a fixed curriculum. With BYOD, the learning continues even outside the classroom.
Regardless of whether schools already have a BYOD policy in place, students are bringing their devices and/or using them at home to learn. It’s up to the school now to embrace the concept as a learning method and transform the way classrooms function forever.