Implementing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in your classroom

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As technology becomes more and more prevalent in the classroom, the idea of ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) offers teachers and pupils alike new ways to explore learning. Finding cost-effective ways to use technology to engage their students in lessons is an ongoing concern. This tutorial highlights some resources and practical tips to get your school started on the BYOD journey.

Examples of BYOD in the classroom and beyond

By blending online elements with other learning tools, teachers can incorporate and encourage new teaching practices, activities, assessment tools and communication methods. Two examples: Professor Julian Bobroff of University of Paris-Saclay has shared innovative ways to use smartphones for science teaching. Through the YouTube channel La Physique Autrement, Bobroff shares tutorials (only in French) such as ‘Turning your smartphone into a microscope’, ‘Measuring the magnetic field’ and ‘Measuring the speed of sound’ that show how various science experiments can be conducted using only a smartphone, making it a user-friendly example for students.

Dannewerkschule have placed the students as the teachers in their project Handyführerschein für Senioren (Phone License for Seniors). The project has students give senior citizens a tutorial on basic mobile phone skills as a part of the subject Consumer Education. The children learn in tandem with the seniors, learning skills in social engagement and how to explain complex issues in an understandable way.

The BYOD approach reduces the resources and expenses needed at the start, and allows for a more flexible learning space.

A case study run in five Estonian schools that offer their pupils BYOD came to a number of interesting conclusions, including:

  • an excellent whole-school Wi-Fi network is vital;
  • it is necessary to make arrangements for pupils who do not have smart devices;
  • mobile devices can be used very effectively to support pupils working collaboratively in pairs or small groups;
  • laptops still seem to be best at secondary levels, whilst tablets are more convenient for primary pupils;
  • teachers need their own digital device as well as training and support from an in-house ICT expert;
  • teachers who are less experienced in ICT need both technical support and inspiration.

According to the study, parents were satisfied that their children were using their devices productively and efficiently.

BYOD and digital safety

According to Digital Europe, teachers can implement strategies to improve their students’ data and privacy safety by:

  • using unique passwords, and not reusing the same passwords;
  • thinking critically about which links to click, especially in an email;
  • taking care when connecting to potentially insecure wireless/Wi-Fi networks, particularly when in public;
  • being especially vigilant when giving personal information to websites.

The Bring Your Own Device for Schools pocket guide explains that individual schools decide how much responsibility they will take if a student’s device is lost, damaged or stolen. Some alternatives include:

  • the school, or local education authority, negotiates on behalf of students/parents for a support service to be included in the cost of the devices purchased or covered by an insurance policy;
  • the school dictates the specific device to be purchased by parents and the school is responsible for device maintenance.

Getting the parents involved

One factor highlighted in the case studies was the need to have the parents on board with BYOD. Many parents were hesitant to let their children bring their devices to school.

The 2nd Survey of Schools on ICT in Education found parents were more likely to become involved in their child’s digital activity the younger their child was. Over half of secondary school pupils who participated in the survey received no support from family for homework that involved digital devices.

One school in Poland found that having face-to-face meetings and informative study sessions with parents helped them warm to the idea of BYOD. In these sessions, they could see how the children’s devices would be used in class, the advantages of the approach, and the safety measures taken. Also, for those parents who were worried that their children could not partake in the lessons if they did not have a digital device, the school encouraged group work: ‘They should also be shown how tablets boost teamwork in projects involving 2-3 children. In this way, not every child needs to have their own tablet. The devices can be shared.’