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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

5 Questions to Consider in BYOD Schools

This post originally appeared on one of my other blogs, Android4Schools.com.

More schools are allowing BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) now than even just a few years ago. As a teacher BYOD can be a good thing as it allows students to work with a computer, tablet, or phone with which they are familiar. At the same time, BYOD can be a bad thing if you or the school leadership hasn't thought through all of the implications and ramifications of BYOD. To that end, here are five things that should be thoughtfully considered as you move to BYOD.

1. Can you find apps and sites suitable for all students' devices?
When every student uses the same school-provided computer or tablet you don't have to worry about this question too much because you simply pick a site or app that works on one device and you're all set. In a BYOD environment you will have a variety of operating systems, versions of operating systems, and display sizes. For BYOD environments I always try to find web apps that are coded in HTML5 so that I have the best chance of the app or site working on all devices.

2. Can your network handle the number of devices that will be added to it?
This is a question for the IT department to answer. Once you allow students to add their devices to your wireless network you're going to have a massive uptick in traffic. Are you prepared? Along the same line, are you ready to support helping students figure out how to add a myriad of devices to your network.

3. Are you going BYOD to save money by not providing computers to students?
If so, you're missing the point of BYOD. Using BYOD as a reason to not provide students with computers creates an unequal environment for students. BYOD should be a supplement, not a replacement for a 1:1 program.

4. How are your students going to share files and or print files?
As a classroom teacher who will be collecting assignments from students think about the way in which you want to collect those assignments. In a Google Apps for Education environment you might use Google Classroom or Google Drive. In other settings you might need to create a Dropbox or Box folder to which students submit files. If it's printed work that you need, are your students going to be able to connect to a network printer or will you have to do all of the printing from a school-issued computer? If you're not sure, ask a member of your IT staff before those printed assignments are due.

5. How will you handle inappropriate use of mobile phones?
In the 8th grade I got in trouble for reading a Field & Stream article that I had stuffed inside my Algebra textbook. My point being that students texting in class is a classroom management issue, it's not the fault of the device being present in the classroom any more than Field & Stream was to blame for me not paying attention to my Algebra teacher, Mr. Dorsey.

We'll be talking about this topic and many others during the Practical Ed Tech BYOD Camp this summer. Early discounted registration is on sale now.