Wisconsin is a potluck culture. You don’t go anywhere without bringing something to share. Partly because we are a generous people by nature and partly because you can be sure there will be something you like to eat. I grew up near the bratwurst capital of the United States and I married a person who does not eat red meat. I know this to be true.
Which is why I think the new trend in students bringing their own devices (BYOD) is a fantastic idea. This Christmas, nearly every one of my students came back saying that Santa got them a new iPod Touch/Kindle/Kindle Fire/iPad/laptop (where was Santa when I needed him this year? All I got was a waffle iron! It’s great and I love waffles, but still …)
I think BYOD is a great idea for a several reasons.
- Students are less likely to damage their own property than the schools. I have seen too many of my students mishandling laptops and cameras and thinking nothing of it. If it was their precious iPod at risk, the one that they begged and pleaded for weeks to get, I doubt they would be juggling it down the hallway.
- It puts the pressure off the school to provide everything. I am all for giving students the tools they need, but wouldn’t it be nice if students were pumped about getting the latest Office suite? A group of my kids were pumped because they downloaded the Edmodo app on their iPods and were able to do their homework at home.
- It frees up resources for where they are needed. Rather than spending time creating an eReader policy, learning how to lock down and administrate the eReaders, and creating accounts for the eReaders—the kids can do that! Then, with setup out of the way, teachers and administrators can focus on teaching students how to use their devices better rather than getting them working and keeping them working.
However, there are issues that could easily pop up.
- Whatever machines are brought in need to have some level of conformity, such as everyone being able to use Google Apps. Most schools seem to use a policy that contains a list of acceptable devices and rules for how they can be used. Which brings me to the next issue …
- Acceptable use is an issue. If students are bringing their iPads to school, who is to say they are doing schoolwork and not just playing games or texting their friends? First, there are filters that can block most distracting and inappropriate communication. But no filter that I know of can beat a teacher being aware of what is going on in their classroom and being given the freedom to make judgment calls.
- Access for students needs to be universal. Sure, it is a parent’s job to provide what a child needs, but I have yet to visit one school that does not have a closet full of hats, gloves, notebooks, backpacks, pencil, and even Halloween costumes for kids who need them. Because, at the end of the day, it is the school’s job to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to learn. Will schools have to buy some Kindles to act as loaners? Sure. But I think many schools would be surprised to see just how far parents will go when they are asked to step up. I would wager that schools would be loaning out fewer than they think, and that come the holidays, their kids won’t be asking for a Gameboy.
For more information on BYOD check out a great article The 7 Myths About BYOD Debunked by Lisa Nielsen.