Log in

Is BYOD a disaster waiting to happen in schools?

BYOD disaster

I can't let this one pass me by - a blog post titled "Why BYOD is a disaster waiting to happen" from Ryan Faas writing after the ISTE annual conference and trade show in San Diego this week.

Ryan uses the following as his case for arguing that we shouldn't be moving towards BYOD in schools:

  1. It will create an uneven playing field for students, with some having better devices than others, and some not having a device at all.
  2. Support challenges - with schools struggling to support the range of devices being brought to school
  3. Difficulties created for schools to meet state and federal regulations re filtering etc.

Seems to me the argument is being made from a very organisation-centric point of view, concerned more for the school than the student. Summed up in the final statement:

Ultimately, the most effective way to ensure appropriate education technology use is to use devices that are school owned and managed. That can be a challenge to many public schools with tight funding, but BYOD is more likely to exacerbate problems than fix them.

For me the essential piece of the BYOD debate has been missed - this is more to do with personalisation and learner agency than it is to do with cost containment. As educators we need to sharpen up on our pedagogical rationale for these sorts of ventures. 

What do you think? How do you respond to the things spoken about in this article? What advice would you provide to others thinking of getting into the BYOD area?


  • Monika Kern

    Interesting point of view. My school is not currenty offering BYOD, and when I talked about it the first time the main response was that uneven playing field, the haves vs. the don't haves (the next comment was that students could already bring devices but in fact neither do our school rules allow it nor is our current system geared up to privide for BYOD). I have long been promoting the use of students' devices in learning a this is what they are ultimately familiar with and it would allow students to take their learning with them.

    In regards to supporting the devices, ASHS had a good policy to deal with this (if I recall correctly, "we'll have a look and try to help, but ultimately it's up to the device owner to maintain it").

    And as for filtering etc., Internet cafes, wireless hotspots etc. are dealing with similar issues all the time, I can't imagine that a school has to reinvent the wheel on that. Filtering systems are rarely smarter than the young people who try to get around them (we have Watchdog block FB but it took the kids not long to get around it - well, actually it took them longer than I expected but they made it lol).

    I think the key to successful BYOD is really good planning. What are we trying to get out of BYOD, how are going to use it, what systems do we have to have in place to make it a success? Community consultation - parents need to know why, what devices, how are they covered for loss and / or damage?

    I am encouraging my oldest son's school to go for BYOD even though it will me forking out for a device for him to take to and from school. He is the kind of kid who will look after it. However, not all children are the same, and how will we deal with people who don't respect others' property? Not all parents are in the financial situation to repair or replace a device which might or might not have been privately insured (that just reminded me of the recent discussion on take you own gear to work, who pays for loss / damage: Would my insurance pay if that device was lost at his school???).

    However, I still think that the positives outweigh the negatives in regards to BYOD: The students using their own device will know better how to use it, they take their learning with them, they are able to work 1-on-1, they free up school owned devices for less furtunate students. Like with all e-learning, the challenge is for the educators to make best use of technology in their students' learning.