Readers say iPads and "bring your own device" policies need careful thought.

Every few years, new technologies—and the policies that go with them—make a splash in schools, and this year, Apple’s iPad and “bring your own device” (BYOD) policies are all the rage in ed tech.

It’s no surprise, then, that recent stories about these two ed-tech trends—“Schools see rising scores with iPads” and “‘Bring your own device’ catching on in schools”—should be among our most widely read stories so far this year.

Readers expressed overwhelming support for BYOD as a strategy to get mobile learning tools into the hands of more students in a cost-effective way, although some raised questions that need to be considered as schools adopt BYOD policies of their own.

As for our story “Schools see rising scores with iPads,” which described the experience of a few California schools that have adopted iPads in the classroom, many readers said the iPad is a new way to engage students—but at the end of the day, it’s just another tool to help students learn … and perhaps some of the hype has gone too far.

“I completely agree that technology helps in productivity,” wrote a reader identified as wallace. “However, technology is just another means to get the information across to an audience. It is not the lesson. It is not a teacher who brings meaningful approaches to lessons being learned. The interaction is a necessity. Sure, questions can be eMailed, but there will most probably be a lag time in response for any number of reasons. Education will always have to go through surges of reinvention. It goes along, and parallels with, the nature of learning.”

For more on mobile learning, read:

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wallace continued, “I think the biggest challenge with advancing technology is the lack of maturity and responsibility with the users. Money, of course, is an inherent factor. Until the young generation learns that technology is not the only answer, there is still a lot more learning that comes with the application. Is there an app for that?”

Another reader, crschmiesing, wrote: “The iPads have been out for just over a year … and they are indeed ‘cool tools,’ but is it the iPad that is making a difference, or just the fact that [students] have access to this new technology? Didn’t we hear the same type of reports [before], which encouraged providing laptops for every student? Also, how much of these things actually reside on the device? In other words, if a student’s iPad is damaged, how will that impact their education? I am of the opinion that moving to a ‘cloud’ environment, where everything (from textbooks to homework assignments to apps) is readily available from the ‘net’ on practically any device (Apple, Android, Windows, etc.), would be critical to long-term success. Yes, the content must be engaging, as does the technology, but it should not be platform-specific.”

Some readers were a bit more blunt in their responses.