George Cole, in part three of his series on 1:1 computing, looks at 'BYOD'
Many schools are exploring routes to 1:1 technology provision including 'bring your own device' (BYOD). Supporters of BYOD point out that many students own mobile digital devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops (a YouGov survey recently reported that almost three quarters of 10-year-olds have a mobile phone), so why not save on hardware costs and get pupils to bring their own?
But as Valerie Thompson, chief executive of the e-Learning Foundation, notes, “There are huge implications for introducing a bring your own device policy, not least, what if you can’t?
"What if you’re one of three children at home and there’s only one laptop between you? What if the device you’ve got is old and a bit embarrassing to bring to school? If you go down the bring your own device route, you have to address these issues.”
'Bring your own device is a bit of a cop-out'
Valerie Thompson adds that the mobile device most pupils are likely to own is a smartphone, but these devices are not suitable for activities such as project work, presentations or creative writing. “Bring your own device is a bit of a cop-out, because teachers will find what they can do with technology in the classroom very limited because ultimately, you’re limited by the lowest common denominator.” And even the projected cost savings of BYOD can be lost, adds Thompson, as schools may need to upgrade their network in order to cope with the large number of devices connected to it.
Thompson concedes that for, some schools, BYOD could be a successful strategy, especially if they can use Pupil Premium funding, bursaries or local or central government funding (like children in care or SEN funds) to help pupils who cannot afford their own device. But her watchwords are: "Tread carefully".
Hannah Jones, founder and director of Connecting Learning , is currently working with former Partnership for Schools ICT expert Steve Moss and others on the non-profit Educating 4 Leadership (E4L) project to help schools make wise decisions based on best practice and up-to-date research in 1:1 schemes. They have partnered with the Alaskan academics running one of the world's most ambitious schemes and will be using a localised version of their One to One Guidebook with school leaders.
Hannah Jones thinks that BYOD can work for schools that have a lot of experience in using digital technology for teaching and learning. “You need to have a culture of using mobile technology, the infrastructure to support it and the ability to manage it," she says. "If you’ve got teachers who are not very confident about using ICT, they are not going to relish the prospect of having to manage a dozen different devices in the classroom.” However, she warns that if schools do not cater for those children who do not have their own devices, the digital divide will open up even further.
But even schools that are already extensive users of mobile technology may decide to bypass BYOD. Essa Academy has a school-wide 1:1 policy (see "The mobile revolution and schools – 1:1 is here" and "No 'one size fits all' for 1:1 – think strategically"), but director Abdul Chohan says, “I wanted to remove problems for our teachers, so I didn’t want a 'bring your own device' policy. If you have 30 pupils with their own devices, the teacher is going to have to cope with different file sizes, different file formats and so on, and it’s going to be difficult to get all students working on the same task, unless they are only going to browse the internet.”
'BYOD is probably more suited to secondary schools'
Dave Whyley, headteacher consultant for learning technologies for the city of Wolverhampton, thinks that schools shouldn’t deploy a BYOD policy until they’ve had some experience in 1:1 computing. “I think it’s something you might step into at a later stage, but there are issues," he warns. "Do you set a minimum specification, so all students can do the same activities? How are you going to monitor and control the devices? And who is responsible for the device when it’s in school?” Dave Whyley thinks that BYOD is probably more suited to secondary schools and, even then, for specific groups of students like sixth formers.
This is the approach being taken at Cramlington Learning Village in Northumberland, which runs a 1:1 programme with its Year 8 students, and is about to introduce BYOD to its 400 post-16 students. Cramlington has an Independent Learning Centre (ILC), which sixthformers use for timetabled independent learning sessions. The ILC has sufficient computers for around a third of the school’s sixth formers, so BYOD is seen as a way of increasing access to ICT, says assistant head Phil Spoors, “There were obvious issues we had to address, such as the security of the school network; the capability of the different devices and connecting them to the network.”
The school uses filters and controls the numerous devices with Sophos Mobile Control, “It’s like an internet cafe," he adds, "in that you have to log on to the network and so we can track every device. We also have filters and students can’t access certain parts of the school network.” If a student connects to the school’s VLE, he or she can access all their documents and various content online. Cramlington hasn’t had to upgrade its wireless network to accommodate extra devices.
Nor has Cramlington taken out any special insurance for BYOD, “We’ve told the students that the devices are their responsibility, although we will give them advice about carrying the devices to and from school. Most of our students already have smartphones or iPods, which they carry in their bags anyway.” There are also plans to introduce staff training, “There are lots of great tools for mobile devices out there that the students can use, like Evernote, but if staff aren’t aware of them, they can’t bring them to the students’ attention, so we will be running training sessions on this.” Cramlington may introduce BYOD to other year groups in the future.
Capita launches new product to manage BYOD for schools
At BETT 2013, Capita IT Services is introducing a solution designed to help schools run a BYOD policy. Steve Smith, Capita IT Services director of learning, says that his company identified ten areas that schools need to consider when opting for BYOD (see table below). The company then set about finding a solution to address these issues. The solution is known as Secure Cloud Access from Lenovo, and it enables schools to control access to the content and resources on its network across multiple devices. Smith says a licence for Secure Cloud Access from Lenovo will cost around £10,000-12,000 for three years for a school with 1,000 students, although there may be some additional costs, depending on the school’s existing IT infrastructure.
“We don’t claim that it addresses all issues 100 per cent,” says Steve Smith, “because it might not interact with every single piece of printer management software for example, but we are confident that it makes life much easier for schools wanting to offer BYOD. For example, every device has the same user interface. We hope teachers will visit our stand at BETT with their own devices, so we can connect them to our network and they can see how it works.”
Ten issues schools need to consider when opting for BYOD
- Getting the device connected to the network.
- Managing the device on and off the network.
- Can your wireless network support BYOD?
- Physical security - what happens if a device is lost, stolen or damaged?
- Interactions with existing systems, such as anti-virus protection.
- Will the device work with your print management software?
- e-safety – such as filtering, controlling access to parts of your network.
- How will devices interact with classroom management software?
- How will devices interact with the school’s portal, VLE and MIS?
- How will you cope with the variety of operating systems and platforms?
Source: Capita IT Services
BYOD or BYOT?
Mal Lee, an author and educational consultant specialising in the use of digital technology in the evolution of schooling, and Martin Levins, director of information technology at The Armidale School in New South Wales, Australia, think that schools should think beyond BYOD and consider a policy of Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT). They define BYOT as, “An educational development and a supplementary school technology resourcing model, where the home and the school collaborate in arranging for students’ 24/7/365 use of their own digital technology/ies to be extended into the classroom, and in so doing to assist their teaching and learning and the organisation of their schooling and, where relevant, the complementary education outside the classroom.”
They have written a book: Bring Your Own Technology: The BTOT Guide for Schools and Families
In his blog on BYOT Mal Lee argues the case for BYOT and explains why he sees BYOD as a stepping stone to BYOT.
Also in this series
1:1 Learning Myths at OllieBray.com
Doug Belshaw's "Some Thoughts on iPads and One-to-One Initiatives"
"Welcome to Google's first UK 'server-free school'"
"iPads changing the game for learning at Longfield"
"'Significant and positive impact' of iPads at Longfield" (Naace report)
AASB Consortium for Digital Learning
"An Inside Look at Alaska's AASB Consortium for Digital Learning 1-to-1 Initiative"
Shambles 1:1 links for 1:1 initiatives
Avantis guide to choosing a tablet for education
Capta IT Services B250