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How to make BYOD work for your schools

Ed-tech directors share their strategies for meeting challenges such as access, security

How to make BYOD work for your schools

One of the largest challenges in a BYOD initiative is meeting the needs of students who don’t own a mobile device, or who don’t have internet access at home.

“Bring your own device” (BYOD) initiatives are relatively new in education, cropping up in the last few years as schools—under tight budget constraints—seek ways to leverage student-owned devices for learning.

Supporters of the BYOD movement say students are instantly more attentive and better behaved when they are encouraged to use their own mobile devices in the classroom, but educators face a number of challenges in making BYOD work in their schools.

For instance, what if some students don’t bring a smart phone, laptop, or tablet computer of their own? How can educators make sure that students use their mobile devices only for educational purposes, or that these devices won’t compromise the district’s network security? How can school leaders address the concerns of parents?

We’ve talked with ed-tech leaders in a number of districts with BYOD initiatives, and here’s how they’re meeting these challenges in their schools.

A ‘coalition of the willing’

Jill Hobson, instructional technology director for the Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, said her district’s BYOD initiative is a “coalition of the willing.”

Now in its fourth year, the initiative began with seven schools and 40 teachers who realized they didn’t have all the answers to questions that a BYOD initiative would raise, Hobson said.

See also:

Wireless experts: Time to move beyond the device

With mobile device management, schools can rest easier

“We would share ideas, but we expected that we would be learning from the teachers as they were going to be trying things in the classroom,” she said. “It was messy, and we were prepared for that.”

In the initiative’s second year, the district’s technology team told school principals that the infrastructure to support BYOD existed, but that district leaders did not mandate participation. Still, last year 100 percent of the district’s schools participated.

“I’m under no illusion—that doesn’t mean every classroom was doing it,” Hobson said. “We’re not mandating it. But certainly, the capacity is there to do it.”

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Comments:

  1. callen1220

    November 1, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    What’s inherently very important with regards to BYOD is the density issue of multiple devices per student/teacher and although those devices may be idle, they’re still communicating and using bandwidth. Also, the school district needs to be sure their wireless network and the access points distributed in that network can handle the density issue. We’re finding many who did not test this aspect when purchasing their wireless product and now will be disappointed once they roll out BYOD or any type of 1:1 initiative to discover they have the wrong product. Even worse, if E-Rate funds were used, how do you afford to replace this wireless equipment? Please be sure you have the vendor bring in wireless product demos and actually test the equipment with your teachers using mutliple devices and people up to at least 60-70 per access point – if the vendor won’t offer this service, you need to find another provider. This is critical to your wireless and BYOD success.

  2. michaelmflood

    November 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Kajeet is the only wireless carrier focused on BYOD. We actually allow the school to provide policies the parent’s can opt their kids device into so the school/parent can specify what is allowed on the 3G network during school hours. This prevents kids from bypassing the schools WLAN policies by using their own network.

    Kajeet BYOD or Kajeet School Guard

    We are even partnering with schools/districts in a model similar to BTFE to provide some donations back to the schools as parents enroll!

    BYOD and School Guard on Education Talk Radio