What is BYOD?

The term BYOD, which stands for “Bring Your Own Device,” refers to the practice of students bringing their own laptops, tablets, smartphones, or other mobile devices with them to class. Intel coined the term in 2009, when the company observed that an increasing number of its employees were using their own devices and connecting them to the corporate network. Since then, this type of activity has become commonplace in workplaces all over the globe. The BYOD movement in education institutions is being driven by a major challenge that many institutions face — a lack of funds to support one-to-one learning, which is a systemic solution in which every student is provided a laptop or mobile device that can be used to support learning in and outside of the classroom. BYOD makes one-to-one easier by simply leveraging the devices that students already have, or those their parents could buy for them. In practice, it has proven important to provide funds to support families in financial need, and to standardize on a small set of devices and software packages. Often the school will negotiate advantageous pricing for families to reduce their costs. In early studies, the act of a student using his or her own device for learning has proven to increase productivity and engagement. Tablet computing has accelerated the pace of BYOD, especially in schools, where these smaller, less-expensive devices are seen as a better option than traditional laptops. With their ever-growing capabilities, tablets (which now include an expanding set of choices, such as the iPad, Galaxy, Nexus, and Surface), are well positioned for BYOD environments.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • In my country, Denmark, we are so privileged that all students but a very, very few have a laptop, a tablet and/or a smartphone of their own. But I do realize that this is not the case all over the World, indeed. One important problem of BYOD - that we at my university face again and again - is the fact that the communication across platforms is often everything but seamless. Some developers only go for one operating system, some applications differs from OS to OS, and updates often come out of step with one another. This hampers an effective use of some programs in class and between classes (flipped classroom). - ole ole Oct 7, 2013 - jochen.robes jochen.robes Oct 21, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • I'd like to build on Ole's point. In any given class, most of my students own smartphones (hardly anyone owns a tablet). However, even 85% of students own an iPhone, that leaves 15% who own different platforms. As a faculty member, I therefore cannot design curriculum that is app-dependent as it will marginalize students who don't own app-compatible devices. As long as there is digital equity this isn't a problem. Note--I'm defining digital equity here as comprising both access AND the facility of instructors/students to know how to use the technology for teaching and learning. - jasonr jasonr Oct 10, 2013 Good point. Either students will need to know how to use their own devices and install apps, academics will need to be trained across multiple platforms, or programs will need to state which devices are brought to class, as part of the course requisites. - Melissa.Langdon Melissa.Langdon Oct 27, 2013
  • I think the future of BYOD has to be web-centric or use other platforms that are not device specific such as SMS. Applications that some of our faculty are using involve classroom polling (polleverywhere.com and others). Our big hurdle these days is the continued reliance by many textbook vendors on Flash, which doesn't work on current Android or iOS devices. If we could get rid of Flash, I could get rid of 1/3 of my computer labs and move instruction back into the classrooms where it belongs. My strategy at HCC has involved, first of all, providing devices to faculty for experimentation, and, second, providing limited classroom sets of devices to supplement what the students already have. I have personally noticed in my classes that the number of students needing iPads from our stock has dropped year-to-year. In Spring 2012, I was giving out around 12-13 devices per class in a class of around 25. In Spring 2013, that number dropped to 5-6 in a similarly-sized class. BYOD is happening whether we like it or not. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 11, 2013 Equity is always an issue when it comes to BYOD. I think as time goes on, we will see the number of student without devices continue to decline. - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • Interesting discussion. It feels to me that developers of apps that "make it" will bridge the iOS/Android gap and develop products for both markets. I imagine us being in a BYOD gap now and agree, it's tough. But there's still great potential in having students work in groups and giving the student with access to an app a lead role in the group, for example. For one, using mobiles to generate a backchannel with Twitter in large lecture classes and projecting the feed on the wall is a great use of BYOD. - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013
  • I agree with tom.haymes that the applications that run will have to be cloud/web based. With html 5, that is much more practical today. As computers of all types keep getting faster, the price per unit of performance keeps dropping. The tablets students are bringing to class today will be essentially free by 2020. I can see a company like Amazon.com leveraging this to provide subsidized tablets for their customers. Printer companies already do this. They sell a printer at a loss in order to make up the money by vastly overcharging for ink. - andrew.barras andrew.barras Oct 17, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013
  • BYOD will radically how IT is is conceived and delivered within higher education, but I disagree with the premise above. BYOD is important not because of a lack of funds within institutions, but because consumers now have access to computing technology independent of any single organization. Previous to the late 1990''s students came to institutions to have access to cutting edge technology. Now students come more technology literate and with more computing power in their hands than the average faculty member or institution can manage, control, and accommodate. The trend toward individual, consumer controlled information technology will only continue to expand and put pressure on how institutions provide resources, how faculty provide content and structure knowledge transfer, and how research will be structured and performed.- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013
  • BYOD needs to be considered a a strategic issue. One of the main pieces of feedback from our students is the lack of power sockets, the design of lecture rooms and the capacity of wi-fi that actively discourages BYOD. Institutions need to ensure that teaching spaces do not prevent students and staff from BYOD - there are requests from both to use their own devices to deliver presentations and print wirelessly. We are seeing current (and outdated) computing regulations being adapted to consider BYOD, whereas BYOD should be a starting point not an addition - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 26, 2013

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • We need to make sure that we stress and include the institutional and entropic barriers to BYOD adoption.There are still many institutions, particularly in K-12 but also on the higher education level, than ban the use of personal devices in the classroom. Many teachers, afraid of losing their students' attention, also ban them. Of course, my argument to them is that the students will wander anyway and that non-engaged students may have more to do with the style or mode of instruction than the availability of distraction. Whatever the reason, we need to figure out how to manage the proliferation of devices effectively so that they support learning and do not detract from it. - tom.haymes tom.haymes Oct 11, 2013- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Oct 24, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013
  • To build onto Tom's point above, the 2013 ECAR Study of Undergrad Students & Information Technology revealed that 74% of undergrads report "smartphones are banned/discouraged in class. ow.ly/pCyna On the flip side, BYOD is a signifcant way to dissolve the walls around our classrooms and place our students in direct conversation and dialogue with a global community during class. - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013 - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013
  • I believe that no students should be disadvantaged by financial contstraints. I also believe that the BYOD concept allows institutions to get away without providing the infrastructure students need to maximise their educational potential, in the same way we used to do with regards to internet access a few years ago - we now provide computer clusters with internet access to all students regradless of their financial situation, and I believe we will do so with mobile devices in the future. Either mobile devices are an integral part of classroom life or they are not. If they are, then I believe we should provide them for all. If they are not, then there is no need to cobble something substandard that can be used on the lowest common denominator of the devices the students have managed to beg, borrow or steal. - damian.mcdonald damian.mcdonald Oct 14, 2013
  • One of the issues we are seeing in the UK is some University schools or faculties providing device for their students. Whilst this is benefitting this group of students it does provide a digital divide with other other students in the same insitution - we are already seeing negative feedback from students not being given 'free' devices - neil.witt neil.witt Oct 26, 2013

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on higher education?

  • I recently read someone reflect in a blog post (I can't remember who), if our students all had internet connected computers in their pockets hundreds of years ago, would we have started teaching college courses this way? If not, then why do we do it now? To me, BYOD is more that about increasing student engagement. It cultivates a very important acceptance of our students' learning culture within the boundaries of a college campus. It's important to consider that a smartphone represents something very powerful and emotional to students. It's not just a tool or a piece of technology. It is a companion through which they document their personal successes and failures in photographs and videos and turn around to share those media files with their friends (and the broader public, at times) in a heartbeat. So, by opening up our classrooms and inviting in smartphones, we are doing more than allowing "devices" in a college classroom. We are creating a new relevancy for the college learning environment, which could foster deeply meaningful exchanges between our students and the rest of the world (see my related blog post). - mpacansky-brock mpacansky-brock Oct 12, 2013- joseph.cevetello joseph.cevetello Oct 25, 2013

  • The BYOD way of thinking is in all respects in sync with modern society. No doubt this is a field that we should pay attention to, given the above mentioned problems can / will be solved. - ole ole Oct 7, 2013
  • Thanks, Ole. Just find it odd to hear that this is a discussion point and still remains as a possibility. It's no longer my American Express card--Don't leave home without it. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 13, 2013
  • An Internet connected device is the most powerful learning tool ever developed. It changes the dynamic from the teacher being the provider of all information to the device doing it. This is a fundamental change, which I think is why so many teachers are having trouble adjusting to it.- andrew.barras andrew.barras Oct 17, 2013 We need to ensure teacher PD is not forgotten as new technologies are introduced. This is especially important for established teachers. Teacher reluctance still remains a barrier to effectively using technology in the classroom. - lkoster lkoster Oct 24, 2013

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • An exclusive survey of higher education CIOs Smartphones, tablets, and other wireless technologies are changing the landscape of education. To understand the changes, Education Dive surveyed 50 higher education CIOs. - michael.lambert michael.lambert Oct 13, 2013 After reading this report, it states that security is the biggest concern for CIO's in higher education. - cchandler cchandler Oct 27, 2013cchandler

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