Bring Your Own Technology (B.Y.O.T.)

by Mark Willis 13 Comments October 3, 2010

For years, schools have set policies to restrict students from bringing their own technology devices to school.

“It is a distraction from teaching.
“It will promote cheating.
“It will not be fair for those who don’t have them.
“There will be inappropriate use.” etc. etc.

With increased budget cuts and higher expectations for achievement in this global economy, is it time for schools to take another look at this issue?

Today more and more students have access to devices like smart phones, iPods, iPads, netbooks and laptop computers.

Can schools find a way to partner with their students to allow them to use their own devices for instructional purposes in the classroom?
If so, what philosophical changes will be required?
What policy changes will need to be made?
What are the legal considerations?
How will instruction have to be adapted?
What training will be required?
How do we address the equity issue?
How do we get both educators and parents to embrace it?
Rather than trying to fight the inappropriate use of technology, does it create an opportunity to teach students about proper social etiquette with technology?

These are all valid questions that must be addressed, but few would deny the value that technology can have today in teaching and learning. As the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and Georgia School Superintendents Association (GSSA) have gone through the Vision for Public Education in Georgia project, technology has been a common theme in the solution for transforming public education. This past week I attended the Georgia Chapter CoSN (Consortium of School Networkers) CTO clinic where I heard from two districts (Forsyth County Schools and Hall County Schools) who are doing exactly that. With one district realizing a decrease in their textbook budget from $2 million to $400,000, it created an opportunity to take a hard look at digital content. Rather than fighting students to keep their devices out of the school, they decided to allow it. It was encouraging to hear their stories and philosophies as they answered these difficult questions. Results so far have been very positive.

As we continuously strive for Excellence in Governance and School Leadership, what implications does all of this have for school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers?

What do you think?

Categories: Leadership, PlanningTags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
13 Comments to “Bring Your Own Technology (B.Y.O.T.)”
  1. avatar Jill Hobson says:

    We continue to be astonished in Forsyth at how quickly administrators, teachers, students and parents are accepting of the concept of BYOT. From our initial trailblazers (40 teachers from 7 schools) to over 15 schools in less than 6th months, it’s clear that BYOT is here to stay. Another “a-ha” has been how teachers shift instructional practices almost intuitively when most students have a device available every day.

  2. I’m curious to see how others are dealing with the concept of BYOT! Any other districts trying this out?

  3. avatar Mary Gentry says:

    My school has decided to promote this idea. Most teachers are approving. Even though I am a student using BYOT, I believe cheating on tests will increase. It still amazes me that my school waited until the last 2 weeks of school to try this.

  4. avatar George F says:

    I’m philosophically in agreement with BYOT, but have major reservations regarding the obvious distractions that each student device will come with. I had the opportunity to tour a “laptop ” high school and found many students engaged in trivial online chat, net games and random browsing on topics other than those required for the learning at hand. Most of the research on adolescent motivation that I have come across suggests that children have diminished capacity to delay gratification therefore will find it difficult to resist the temptation to “play” during times when serious learning is to take place. Adults are still needed to provide sensible boundaries until such time as the adolescents in their charge have the capacity to exercise sound judgement. BYOT may well turn out to be just “bring your own toys” to class, with all the associated learning challenges. I’d like to see the learning and testing results from this experiment in the coming years. All to often the technology carny barkers have promised a Utopian model of learning education but have simply delivered a costly Pandoran Box.

    • avatar Gail S says:

      George F – I agree with you completely. I worked for 1 year at a high school where all students were issued laptops, in addition to using their phones for communication with their group members. Teenagers inabilty to delay gratification turned our “forward-thinking” high school into a texting, gaming, facebooking, You-Tubing class. It was extremely hard to encourage the HS students to learn or do their work with these “fun” activities online constantly competing for their attention.

  5. […] at home. However, many of them have mobile devices that will solve this issue. This may lead to a BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) classroom concept as well. For those that do not, perhaps teachers and schools can agree to some […]

  6. avatar Chris Rogers says:

    In regards to cheating on tests, if we are teaching differently with technology we need to test differently as well. \Cheating\ is collaborating, a necessary skill in today’s world. So give them assessments for which they need to collaborate. Memorizing for short term retention, feeding back, and then forgetting, is no longer relevent. Assessments need to be different.

    In regards to being off-task on their devices, we are not engaging them in interesting relevent curriculum and ways to learn it. If we are going to motivate these learners, we need to provide relevent curriculum and exciting new ways for them to interact with their learning.

  7. avatar Lisa Dubernard says:

    Here’s a great website called the BYOT Network that has tons of links, presenations and resources for those considering a BYOT policy.

  8. avatar Steve Mashbrun says:

    If students are cheating, then the WRONG test is being given. An oblivious example:
    “Memorize the capitols of the states and take a multiple choice test.”
    Well, I would pull out my iPhone– wouldn’t you? But what if the test was: “Why are state capitols where they are and how do those reasons vary in different regions of the country. Give three examples that support your theory.” Then the Internet becomes a resource for learning and not a tool for cheating.

  9. Great comment, Steve! I think you are right on target!

  10. avatar Lisa Dubernard says:

    Found a great list of Pros and Cons for BYOT/BYOD! Great list!

  11. avatar marissa knauf says:

    I have heard of some districts that are encouraging parents to bring in old cell phones in order to give them to students who can’t afford their own devices. All they need to do is charge them and then they have access to wi-fi. In order to get the ball rolling I am in favour of having students bring whatever electronic devices necessary in order to give them access to technology. If assignments are engaging, they will be on task.

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