Many schools are considering a BYOD program for a wide range of reasons. For schools this represents a huge shift from the various models they have employed before to see appropriate ICT’s in the hands of their students for learning. Whether the program has been a lab based approach, a laptop program or some blend of everything, BYOD brings its own challenges as well as advantages.
While there are the obvious issues of inappropriate use and the shift of control from the school to the student, there are more subtle issues that are as important.
School based networks often provide back up solutions for students who store materials on the network, this feature may or may not be available on a BYOD program. Even if it is available the onus of responsibility shifts to the student to action the back up, to keep safe their work. Students now also have to consider the underlying concepts of file management as well. (protect yourself)
In a similar vein, students need to protect themselves and their peers by taking responsibility for the antivirus protection required on their device, something that most school owned/leased programs take care of. (protect yourself and protect others)
The freedom of having your own device and control of it carries with it the responcibility of self management. It is unrealistic to expect that the students BYOD devices is only for use at school. BYOD is blurring the boundaries between the social device and the educational tool. It challenges students to be focused on learning and resistant to the distractions presented by the applications and connections that they have on their own device. Applications and connections that in the structured format of a school program are limited and restricted.
Within reason schools are able to control the connections which utilise their network, filter applications and sites. However the convergence between mobile technologies/cellular phones and devices like ipads/tablets etc means that students are able to connect independently of the school and thus can bypass the controls the school may put in place. Inappropriate must now cover more than just unacceptable images etc. (respect and protect yourself and others)
The students and their parents, who are paying the bill, have a vested interest in the care and maintenance of the device that extends beyond the standards expected of a school provide tool in many cases. They need support on how to care for their device, be that carrying it around, regular maintenance and care, repairs etc. This too is an aspect of digital citizenship where the student takes responsibility for their learning. (respect and protect yourself).
With students having a greater degree of control over the devices, and with it probably the ability to install software comes the issue of ethical and moral use of software. Because you can download and install software doesn’t mean you should. Because you can install a cracked version does not mean you should. In the school provided model it was possible to prevent this, but the BYOD model now requires this to be a conscious and considered decision, something that 14 year old students living in the now struggle with.
At the core of a BYOD program must be digital citizenship, and digital citizenship that encompasses all aspects of the use of technology within and beyond the school environment.