BYOD: Yes and No

It seems that a popular movement taking place in schools across the US is “Bring Your Own Device,” which amounts to allowing students to use whatever device they have in the classroom.  At face value this seems like a great idea, and for the most part I agree, that if a student has any technology they are willing to bring to school to help them learn, then who are we as educators to tell them no?  It just makes sense.

However, as I dig deeper to what it means for BYOD, I don’t think it is the answer to creating a one-to-one learning environment in your school, well at least not the K12 school.  I think what we run the risk of when we use BYOD in that manner is that we are bringing the capabilities of students down to the lowest common denominator amongst all the devices.  I’m thinking of the classroom that has everything from cell phones to iPods to tablets to computers.  Finding an activity, project, what have you, that everyone can do is going to be difficult.  Yes, there are some things you an do, but overall this shouldn’t be the type of learning experiences we want our students to have.  There has to be a commitment from the school to support the type of learning you want to see in your classrooms.

Chances are that if a teacher is implementing a BYOD learning environment, the school has refused to buy into the fact that students need to have the necessary tools to learn in the 21st century.  If this is the type of learning desired in the classroom then there HAS to be a commitment from the school to make this type of learning happen.  This doesn’t mean that you can’t still go a BYOD route.  It just means that it shouldn’t be your main entrée.  It should be used more as a side dish to support learning rather than the main medium that students learn though.

At the minimum, there should be an entry level requirement for BYOD.  This will at least prevent the convergence of multitude of differing devices.  However, BYOD is not a real strategy for creating a one-to-one learning environment.  While I support the idea of BYOD, I don’t support it as a real solution for creating a one-to-one learning environment.  It can support it, but should not be the solution.

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