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Education and BYOD

The integration of technology in the education process presents a variety of challenges with two of the primary issues being hardware costs and the constant need for upgrading and replacing outdated or heavily used devices. Following in the footsteps of the “bring your own device” (BYOD) movement in the corporate world, a growing number of school districts are either implementing BYOD or contemplating it for use in the classroom as a solution to both shrinking budgets and the rapid pace of computing innovation/obsolescence.

The introduction of BYOD to the classroom, much like its adoption in the business environment, presents advantages of savings on cost outlays for hardware as well as increased productivity from the use of devices that travel with the user. Additionally, BYOD usage increases the availability of resources and enhances the collaborative process for the user.

These advantages, however, are accompanied by a variety of challenges as well, including:

  • Leveling the playing field between devices – Across a classroom of 25 students there may be 25 unique devices running at different processing speeds, which can punish students using low end tablets while also slowing the teaching process. One solution to this challenge would be to set minimums on device specifications as part of a BYOD policy, but shifting the cost to the parents of each student may present additional challenges.
  • Security – The exponential growth of access to school district networks by privately held devices presents many of the same security risks as business-related BYOD. As hackers increasingly focus on the ease of illicitly accessing networks through mobile devices, school districts will have to develop extra layers of security to protect against malware and the loss of data.
  • Restricting access to distractions such as apps and social media – Location-based BYOD access control will likely provide a solution for controlling access to social media networks while in class, but the downloading of apps on devices while students are off-campus can present the same security risks that IT departments for business networks see on a daily basis.

While a high percentage of schools currently forbid the use of smart phones and other mobile devices, a growing number of school districts are adopting BYOD policies. Many of these programs are being deployed exclusively at the high school level, but the ubiquitous use of mobile devices by younger children, combined with increasingly restrictive education budgets makes it appear that BYOD will be adopted at progressively lower grade levels. 

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