For those in tune to education technology, mobile learning is the undeniable trend for schools and for good reason: students know and love technology, students are inspired to learn with technology and many students have a mobile device of their own. BYOD (bring your own device) programmes take these principles and create a powerful tool for the classroom – a tool that puts focus on individual learning in a modern and convenient way.
Instead of a classroom that bans mobile devices, schools that implement BYOD programmes recognise that a mobile device in a student’s hand is an effective instrument for learning and discovery.
It has become a common scenario: students are forbidden to use their mobile devices in the classroom, but they disobey and text or use social networking sites. In turn, the mobile device is confiscated, resulting in a frustrated teacher and a resentful student.
We see over and over again that children are drawn to technology; BYOD programmes introduce a managed mobile device solution that uses what inspires students and puts students at the centre of technology integration. Instead of denying students what inspires them, classrooms would do well to use that fascination in an educational way.
BYOD programmes provide a one-to-one solution without significant budget impact. Schools can double the number of workstations without an increase in funding. Simply put, these programmes can save the school a fortune.
Students can work anytime, anywhere and are no longer confined to the IT suite or library at school. Assignments can be assessed instantly on their device, on their own time instead of waiting for the next library slot, diminishing many of the excuses students give for late assignment submission.
Students feel empowered when they are more in control of their learning. The choice and empowerment of BYOD reveals a student’s natural desire to learn and encourages them to learn outside the classroom.
Most families upgrade their devices quite regularly – much more often than schools update their classroom technology. It is often much quicker for students to pull up a website or access educational resources than it is to wait for the classroom computer to accomplish the same task.
With a secure network, content filter and policy settings, students’ mobile devices can be as safe as the school-funded IT suite. The appropriate tools should balance the needs of IT departments and educators: filtering for compliance, Acceptable Use Policy enforcement and student safety, but with access to dynamic content and collaborative tools to engage students.
When BYOD is combined with a collaborative learning platform, discussions can be held in a safe social networking environment. A student may be too intimidated to raise his hand in class, but encouraged to express himself in an online discussion with his teacher and other students. A BYOD programme isn’t just safe in a traditional sense, it also offers protection for the shy or socially fragile student.
By allowing students’ own mobile devices inside the classroom, schools encourage learning outside of it. BYOD also encourages collaboration with parents, as students bring the classroom home with them.
BYOD programmes help to alleviate mobile phone misuse in schools, because they don’t ban devices, but teach students how to use them properly. By giving students a productive opportunity to use their devices, they are less inclined to use them inappropriately.
When students leave school, they must be prepared for higher education or the workforce. Both avenues require the knowledge and ownership of a personal device. BYOD programmes help to create independent learners prepared for the next step in their lives.
Students are not the only ones who benefit. When teachers are allowed to use their own devices for presentations and lessons, they can perform much of their own trouble-shooting, minimising IT involvement. Educators can spend less time becoming familiar with their classroom’s technology, making the classroom more efficient.
Students love technology. A connection between technology, especially a student’s own piece of technology, and education brings a modern excitement to the learning process. Bringing personal electronic devices to school introduces a new sense of wonder inside the classroom.
Earnie Kramer is a director of Lightspeed Systems.