Advantages and Disadvantages of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in Education (mini-whitepaper)

BYOD is the technology philosphy and business/education policy of bringing your own device (mobile) or technology (shortened BYOT for laptops, iPads, etc.), and using it while at work or school. Therefore, the use in education can be very beneficial as well as troublesome. Of course, monitored by teachers, it can prove those benefits.

In the past, schools provide the technology that the students would need, but as economic troubles emerge and technology is more pricey, it is better established for a student to BYOD. Basically, the schools are asking the parents of these students (except for college-age students) to purchase the devices so the student can use the technology at school.

These are some of the reasons for the set list below of advantages and disadvantages of BYOD in education, and how you can decide what’s best.

(Awesome guide by Cisco [PDF]: http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/education/46096_byod_ed_aag.pdf )

Advantages

  • Frees up tons of expenditure in educational costs.
  • Provides a big teaching arsenal for teachers, allowing students to view e-textbooks, videos, educational apps, online research, digital learning apps, etc. This type of provision allows reinforced ideas and teachings, and blends the learning. Thus, it has been named as Blended Learning.
  • Less confusion, since the student can use the device at school or at home. This will provide a major way for students to understand the apps much better, make better use of projects (and actually accomplish a good grade), and make learning more fun.
  • Filtering software becoming available (which would be armed on wireless networks and have an acceptable-use-policy in place) to break some disadvantages, which are listed next.
  • Makes learning more efficient. Students are more wired in to technology, so the efficiency of learning would be better for students of all types.
  • Repair costs for educators? Phewey! Students/parents are responsible for repairs, no problem.
  • Digitized classrooms, which brings back instant results in points systems and other apps. The teacher can have their own subscription to the service, while the students utilize their subscription. The students enter the answers or project data, and it can be automatically graded and sent to the teacher. Makes it easier for scoring, saves a lot of time grading, and boosts efficiency even more.
  • Gamification, which brings educational games can be developed which correspond to the learning program and make it more fun for those student gamers talked about above.
  • Ability to instantly send results from government checking units, which may see the quality of education through these digitized classrooms. This could provide the way for even better apps to be developed, more schools to take on the philosophy, and improvement of technology in the classroom.

Disadvantages

  • The biggest concern in doing the BYOD philosophy, is the inability to filter out inappropriate text, images, videos, etc. Teachers would still be required to check up on each student to make sure they’re staying on task. It is sure those sneaky students will still find a way around the fact the teacher checks on them.
  • Ability to filter out gaming is a problem. Games are so easy to access and put away in smart phones and iPads, that it would be easy for students to play a game, see the teacher, react, and close the game before getting caught. The reaction time is so much easier than a PC/Mac (where a taskbar reveals current apps open).
  • With students having access to the device at home and school, they can get used to the devices easier and learn better reaction times, just described above.
  • Inappropriate digital material being brought to school. The major concern is focused on plagiarism, school cheating, etc. One example would include macros (which can automate math problems).
  • Forgotten, lost, damaged, or stolen device. This is especially true for younger students. There could be problems of leaving it on the bus, dropping it in a puddle or water, leaving it on a desk, someone stealing it, etc. Also, the fact that confidential data could be at risk. This could provide a whole new level of privacy trouble and potential liability for schools, if gone out of hand.
  • Some students live in poor or lower income/budgeted families that cannot afford such devices. There is hope that PTA organizations and such can provide financial assistance or a more generic low-cost device to help the student get the best learning possible. While many families are prepared for the general school fee, they’re not so prepared for this new philosophy of BYOD.
  • Schools not prepared with the proper wireless equipment, filtering software, and other technologies such as software apps.
  • Cuts the needs of extra teachers, teacher assistants, etc. Which could drop employment levels in education. But, of course, an assistant could qualify as helpful in monitoring the student’s habits on the device.

Overall, the advantages versus disadvantages are pretty standard, and hopefully, it can help educators decide if the use of it is okay for their systems of learning.

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About Jay Pfoutz

Full time computer security consultant
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