Bring Your Own Device Programs on the Rise in K12 School Districts

June 22, 2015 by Crescerance

Many school districts have begun implementing the Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program encouraging students to bring their personal tablets, phones, and computers to school to serve as learning tools in the classroom. 

The implementation of BYOD programs skyrocketed in 2014. According to the Digital School Districts Survey conducted by the Center for Digital Education and National School Boards Association the percentage of BYOD schools increased from 22 to 56 percent in 2014.

The program is more commonly seen in high school (84 percent) and middle school (74 percent). The majority of elementary grades also offer students to bring their own personal device to school to use as a learning tool.

School district strategies for mobility include professional development for teachers on using a mobile device for instruction, the use of student-owned devices in the classroom and encouraging the use of mobile apps for instruction.

Two-thirds of school districts provide mobile apps for student use and have structures in place to physically protect district-owned devices.

Some of the biggest challenges of BYOD include cost of infrastructure, professional development, and equity.

When deciding whether or not to implement a BYOD program for your schools there are so many things to consider. Here are few best practices for implementation.

Be sure the infrastructure is in place. Discuss with superiors about the bandwidth BYOD will likely demand. Upgrades to Wi-Fi system and a designated IT specialist is often necessary for the program to be successful.

Provide backups. In the event, a student loses or breaks their device what should be done? Teachers need to know that they will have enough devices for their lessons. Fundraising and creative budgeting may be required to ensure that enough backups are in place.

Focus on Equity. Build a team a team to focus on equity. This group can be made up of teachers, students, parents and community members and should work to identify whether students are being left behind by BYOD and find realistic ways to include them. The biggest challenges the team should expect to face is fundraising for backup devices and finding out-of-school Internet connections for students who don’t have access at home.

Professional Development for Teachers. Professional development must be priority as BYOD requires for teachers to understand how to use the technology and how to be effective when teaching with technology. Teachers who get no training or poor training seize use of technology completely. Check with schools that have successfully implemented BYOD. They could be a good resource for professional development.

Include students in planning. Students are unsurprisingly excited about using personal devices in school. It’s a good idea to ask them what they think as they are also resourceful, creative and tuned-in to both the technology and social aspects underlying BYOD implementation challenges.

Create and provide clear guidelines. Schools should inform families about when devices are to be used, who is liable for damage and the consequences if devices are misused.

Set Expectations of digital citizenship. This can go a long way in avoiding problems. Take the time to integrate concepts of safety, rights and respect for self and others online into classroom activities and homework.  Here’s an example of a technology policy from Garland Independent School District. 

Provide education on privacy controls.  Utilizing privacy controls can protect students from cyber-bullying, trolling and identity theft. Think about asking students to research privacy settings as part of an assignment.

Stress the importance of keeping passwords secure. Sharing passwords can be extremely dangerous in making yourself vulnerable to security breaches.

As more schools look to go digital many are faced with the decision of implementing the BYOD program. If your district does decide to go with BYOD understand there will be many challenges, some you can plan for and some unforeseen to be discovered in the process.