BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is the workplace practice where employees bring their own personal devices to work and use them at work for work.
This is an increasingly popular workplace practice for three main reasons:
- It saves companies money, as the cost of the devices and for connectivity is shifted to the employee.
- Employees are using devices they are more comfortable and familiar with, and so are more productive.
- Devices and software that users bring are usually more cutting edge and up to date, again boosting productivity.
It wasn’t long after companies started implementing BYOD policies that cash strapped schools began discussing using BYOD in educational settings. Schools, like many organizations, are facing huge expenses as the public, educators and students are insisting that technology be an essential tool in education.
Unfortunately many advocates of BYOD in education have forgetten that schools are not workplaces, and the wholesale adoption of BYOD in the classroom may leads to some very nasty consequences.
Shifting the cost of devices and connectivity onto users in a classroom means families and students have to pay. This is an equity issue. Public schools are not selective. Unlike companies they accept any and all students, and some of those families and students don’t have the resources to provide their own devices. Unless we provide technology for those students to have access to devices they’ll be left behind.
BYOD in educational settings also creates further inequity within the classroom and between schools. Some students will use the latest, up to date devices, others will have older, less functional technology, and others will be left with even older, board provided devices or none at all. We already have a huge Digital Divide in society. BYOD policies bring that divide into the classroom and allow it to further affect student learning.
We need to decide what matters and put our education dollars where our mouths are. If we value equity in education, and believe students need to learn with and use devices, we must provide them for all students in the classroom. Allowing students to bring in their devices may be a way to enhance or add to a student’s learning in special situations, but it can never be allowed to become the norm.
A full-scale implementation of BYOD in classrooms would significantly disadvantage large groups of low income students and create a significant gap between schools and between students. A system with have and have not schools and classrooms with have and have not pupils isn’t good for any of us.