My Colleague Lee Crockett made a comment the other day about BYOD, Bring your own device and Digital Citizenship. He said that the heart of any BYOD program is digital citizenship. And he’s right.
As soon as a school starts allowing students to bring their own devices into school, they begin to surrender some of their control of the learning environment to the students. They do not have the ability to dictate and control what applications are or aren’t on the students machines. They can not control the media the student may have on the device as the computer is more than just a learning tool its also the young person social medium and often entertainment center.
Schools also lack the ability to search the machine, it is not the schools machine, rather it is the private property of another individual.
The boundaries between home/personal use in its varied forms – whether this is homework, social connections, entertainment, games or even inappropriate activities become blurred. What they do at home comes both unintentionally and intentionally to the school environment.
While BYOD provides many obvious strengths and opportunities to the school ranging from improved care, access and use; to reduced capital, repair and licensing costs. This change in control challenges schools systems. It raises questions of duty of care and safety.
So how do you manage and mitigate these risks? Since the traditional laptop program mechanisms of restricted rights, reduced access and control no longer work effectively alternative approaches are required. The onus of responsibility must shift from the school to the student. Students must live and abide by the underlying ethics of digital citizenship, and to do this we can not set down a block of rules like the tablets of the 10 commandments and say abide by these.
What is required is a deep understanding and acceptance of what is appropriate and right. It is setting a moral code that guides and protects the students. It is a ethic that the students themselves must take up and follow.
This is not saying the students are left to fend for themselves…. Rather it is a process of development of the guidelines that is shared and mutually agreed to. Each aspect is simple, understandable and supported by clear reasoning & justification. It is also a process that is reinforced by all teachers as a consistent approach where the teachers model and enforce all the aspects. The process also requires there to be monitoring, intervention and consequences. Digital Citizenship is not limited to an agreement between the school and student it must also include the families
Core to BYOD is Digital Citizenship and Digital Citizenship is a three way partnership based on agreed goals, supported by shared understanding and reinforced by appropriate monitoring, intervention and concequences.