Implementation: Bring Your Own Device
Bring your own device, or BYOD, is a technology solution that, on the surface, sounds like a school district’s dream.
With the proliferation of individually owned devices such as smartphones and tablets among student populations, it seems to make sense to adopt a program where the school district simply requires that students provide their own technology devices, in the same way that students may be required to bring certain calculators for math class and other school supplies.
If you’re considering a BYOD program for your school district, you will find that instead of being a “device provider and manager” as is the case in a one-to-one program where the school provides the technology, you will find yourself in the position of technology support and the service department, assisting with the management of many device types and operating systems. You’ll have the advantage of somewhat less “responsibility” because the devices are not owned by the school; however, you’ll also find you have less control when it comes to implementation, access, and program success.
Let’s take a closer look at some considerations associated with a BYOD program:
- It’s not realistic to expect that each student will be able to provide their own device. In addition to the purchase of the hardware, the parent has to provide Internet access or a data plan to go along with it. While many families have the means to provide access to a “family” computer for use at home, fewer families are able to provide a portable device for each child.
This means that you’ll have to be prepared to provide some level of access to district-provided devices, whether that translates to sharable devices in the classroom, loaners that students can “check-out,” or even the option for students to rent a device during the school year. (Note: Consider partnering with a local computer business to provide rented devices, similar to local music stores renting instruments to students. The school can define the acceptable devices, the program is affordable for parents, and a local business has a nice revenue stream each year. Win:Win:Win.)
- Different types of devices means different screen sizes with or without full-sized keyboards, different operating systems, storage capacity, apps, and software packages, among other things.
As an IT professional, you are already well aware of the challenges presented when you’re trying to get many different devices and operating systems to “play together” with consistent results for the students and the teachers. This means you’ll have to work very closely with your teachers to find the apps and software solutions that meet the classrooms’ needs and be compatible with the devices students own.
- On any given day, a certain percentage of students will have forgotten their device at home, brought it with a drained battery, or forgotten their power cord at home.
You may want to consider keeping an array of types of power cords available for students to borrow. You can also work with your teachers to set up a power cord loaner program between the students themselves. This gives power cord access to the students who need it while ensuring that the power cord goes home with the right student at the end of the day.
- Most devices will be subject to getting lost, stolen, or damaged in transit to and from school. You may consider providing a “lock-up” option for students (and parents) who prefer that the students device remain on school grounds at night, safely locked away until morning.
While it’s not very realistic to expect that the students themselves can fully fund the technology program in your district, you do have a lot of options to create a very successful “blended” program, reducing the overall financial burden on the district and incorporating the best of what each program has to offer.
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