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Phoenix Forward

Are BYOD programs a good way to bring technology to budget-crunched schools?


BYOB is a familiar acronym, but in schools, “BYOD” represents a new learning program. Known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), this new approach facilitates classroom learning by having students use their own technology devices.

“BYOD programs can decrease technology costs for school districts,” says Kathy Cook, director of educational technology for the University of Phoenix College of Education. “Many budgets are being cut,” she notes, and this is one way that teachers can continue to update their students’ tech skills.

The majority of students ages 12 to 17 own a mobile electronic device such as a cellphone, laptop, tablet or iPod Touch®. The widespread access has driven the popularity of BYOD programs in public and private schools, notes Cook, a former Arizona public school teacher.

School administrators were once fearful that this technology would be a distraction in the classroom, but many now find it’s better to utilize the students’ devices for learning than ban them from the classroom.

“There are many administrative issues related to banning mobile devices,” says Cook, adding that these issues will probably become even more challenging as devices become smaller. “It may be difficult for some districts to embrace BYOD programs at this time,” she acknowledges. Nonetheless, she urges educators to get on board with BYOD in order to help students develop 21st-century skills.

There are many ways to implement BYOD in the classrooms once teachers obtain the support of administrators and parents, formalize the programs’ policies and procedures, and address practical issues, such as theft risk, Cook says.

The idea is to use the devices that students use regularly out of school to help engage them and help them learn.

Best of all, every student does not have to have a mobile electronic device to participate in a BYOD program. Instead, students can work in small groups to take advantage of the smartphones that are collectively available.

“Even if only one device is available, it could be connected to an interactive whiteboard or projector for all to see,” she says. “Teachers need to be creative and innovative and make the best use of the technology available.”

Teachers can make good use of the photo and texting capabilities of mobile devices. In addition students can use their cellphones in class to load web 2.0 websites, such as PollEverywhere, PollDaddySM, and Celly SM, which are sites that allow students to use the phones as “clickers” by texting multiple choice or short answers for instant feedback from the teacher.

Students can use camera features to capture photos for writing projects; teachers can send students on scavenger hunts to photograph real-world examples relevant to what they’re studying in class. Social media sites such as Twitter® and websites such as TodaysMeet and WallWisher also provide back-channel avenues where students can discuss content related to specific lessons, Cook adds.

“The idea,” Cook explains, “is to use the devices that students use regularly out of school to help engage them and help them learn.”


iPod Touch is a registered trademark of Apple Inc.
PollDaddy is a registered service mark of PollDaddy LTD.
Celly is a registered service mark of Celly Inc.
Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter Inc.

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