As with most things, there is a big difference between theory and practice. Bring your own device (BYOD) sounds like a fantastic idea, in theory, but in reality there are also challenges to consider, as with most things.
BYOD - The Future
That isn’t to say it wouldn’t work, just that there are a lot of factors to address in order to make it successful. Here are some pros and cons to think about:
Savings: One personally buys the device, thus saving the school money.
Choice: Imagine not being stuck with ‘that’ kind of software, brand, or hated device. One gets to choose something that they think is the ‘best’, and that varies from person to person.
Motivation: One chooses the device he or she likes and wants to use, and thus is more intrinsically motivated to learn to use it, requiring less training and support (hopefully).
Expertise: Since it is also a personal device more time is spent on it thus exponentially increasing effective use of the device.
Support: Since it is a personal device often used, one requires less support in setting it up and making it work with a variety of other programs and applications. Cons:
Standards: if one is on a tight budget they buy a cheaper device that may or may not actually be able to do what it needs to do in class. There should be some rules and standards given by the office or school about what constitutes an acceptable BYOD.
Security: IT in businesses and schools are shaking in their boots about how to create secure connections on so many different kinds of devices. Again, as in #1, there should be some lists, rules or standards about what devices would be acceptable.
Support: Teachers may unwittingly become tech-support for the many kinds of mobile devices that students bring to the classroom.
Disparity: Some students can afford super cool devices, and can always upgrade to the latest device. Some may not be able to afford one at all, or will have older models. It sets up an uneven playground.
Inequality: All devices are not created equal, which would also lead to unfair advantage of some students over others. Some devices are just better for running certain kinds of educational applications, or opening documents, reading documents, for viewing flashcards and videos, etc.
It is here to stay: A video from ISTE says, basically, BYOD is here to stay, so get over it and accept it.
That could seem harsh at first, but, here is the cost to consider when doing or thinking otherwise. A commony proposed solution to these challenges are school bought and maintained devices. This is expensive, particularly considering the rate at which one version of technology becomes obsolete and a new one must be purchased (conveniently planned obsolescence by companies, but that topic is for a different blog post!). Most schools cannot afford such costs, which means growing disparity in opportunities and access from school to school, which defeats the entire idea that education should be a basic human right accessible to all (UNESCO, n.d.).
A better solution is to have more standardized content formats, such as ePUB. ePUB is the only standardized eBook file format in the industry (Mironchuk, 2009). It can be read on any mobile device or computer using freely available open source eReading software (save Kindle, and even for that there are free converters online). Having more standardized open source file and media formats, such as ePUB, would allow a BYOD program to be more successful across multiple devices. This could help reduce disparity, increase access, minimize the trouble of training and support, and allow people to buy and choose their own personal device. Standardized open source options seems to be a good solution that addresses all the cons listed above, while supporting all the pros. Win-win.
Edudemic (2012). How BYOD fits into the insanely crowded world of educational technology. Retrieved from http://edudemic.com/2012/06/byod-edtech/
Faas, R. (2012). Why BYOD is a disaster waiting to happen for schools. Retrieved from http://www.cultofmac.com/176277/why-byod-is-a-disaster-waiting-to-happen-for-schools/
DeWitt, P. (2012). Are schools prepared to let students BYOD? Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/finding_common_ground/2012/08/are_schools_prepared_to_let_students_byod.html
Mironchuk, I. (2009). What is ePUB. Retrieved from http://www.databasepublish.com/blog/what-epub
UNESCO (n.d.). Right to education. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/education/themes/leading-the-international-agenda/right-to-education/