BYOD: A New Classroom Trend or a Passing Fad?

As your studies come to a close and graduation quickly approaches, you’re probably looking for ways to distinguish yourself once you reach the job market. One way to do this is to stay on top of the newest teaching trends – one of which is BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device.

For some, BYOD simply means taking the technology you already own and bringing it into your workplace. For others, technology such as iPads, tablet computers and laptops are gifted or lent out from employers to their employees for work-related use.byod-classroom

Research shows that there is already a surge in devices being brought to the workplace.  In fact, 81 percent of Americans use personal handheld devices to conduct work-related business. Moreover, one Gartner study predicts that two-thirds of the American workforce will own a smartphone by 2016, and 40 percent of that workforce will be mobile.

But will the BYOD trend make its way into American schools? Research shows that it already has. 

Are schools adopting BYOD?

As of August 2012, there were at least 10 school districts in the country implementing BYOD in the classroom, according to edudemic.com.  

In addition to those trailblazing school districts, there are a growing number of online-only schools that employ hybrid learning models that utilize online courses and personal computers to personalize the learning experience for students.

With a veritable technological revolution upon us, the obvious question for educators is what’s the best device for your classroom? EBook readers, portable media players, tablets and smartphones as well as websites such as eduTeacher can all help educators and schools figure out the best way to integrate technology into the classroom.

But as with anything that challenges the status quo, there are advantages and concerns about BYOD in the classroom.

Advantages of the BYOD trend

Some people believe that technology in the classroom is not only an important step in staying with the times, but that failure to use it can actually stunt childhood development.

“Teachers must use technology in the classroom or their students will suffer academically,” said Joni Kuhn, developmental education instructor at Rasmussen College. “Our world is (already in) a technology age and it’s not going anywhere. It’s definitely not a passing fad.”

Other educators believe BYOD can promote greater participation in the classroom.

“Children are spending more time on screens (than ever before),” said Cecelia Westby, dean of the School of Education at Rasmussen College. “We use technology intentionally to promote a child’s growth and development, and as part of the curriculum.”

Research from Concordia University found that if new technology is introduced into a classroom and used as part of the everyday curriculum, students are more interested in the material and are more likely to succeed.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children agrees that when technology and interactive media are used intentionally and appropriately, it supports learning and development in young children.

In addition, school districts looking to stay ahead of the curve are adopting BYOD in an effort to appear technologically savvy and forward-thinking, which can then attract families from outside the district.

Concerns about the BYOD trend

With classrooms that are equipped with computers, it’s hard to find time for all students in large classrooms to use them, writes Doug Johnson in his book The Classroom Teacher’s Technology Survival Guide. Johnson is also the director of media and technology for the Mankato Public School System.

In fact, schools across America have on average one mobile device for every three students.  This brings up issues on students sharing technology and receiving inadequate exposure and time on the device.

Not only that, but there is always the question of whether a teacher’s own device is compliant with school district policy.

Technology shortages and theoretical debates about whether young children should even have access to technology and digital media in early childhood education (ECE) programs make up the majority of the argument against BYOD. But research shows that 80 percent of BYOD across America already goes unmanaged, which leads to security concerns about data protection and compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA).

Before a BYOD policy is implemented, school districts should consider the concerns about the BYOD trend  and be prepared to act quickly when problems arise.

The bottom line

BYOD in the classroom could alleviate the need to train teachers on district-wide hardware and software, but schools will still need to provide professional development to teachers – especially when it is related to the guidance and management of BYOD in the classroom.

The biggest takeaway is this, BYOD has its advantages and disadvantages, but definite evidence either way is still lacking. If BYOD seems like a good fit for your future classroom, be sure your future school district is on board too. Also, if becoming an ECE teacher is the path you’re likely to take, check out the newest tech trends to know.

Kendall Bird

Kendall is a Social Media Strategist at Collegis Education who is focused on bringing awareness and engagement to Rasmussen College's social media properties. She is passionate about helping others, the power of education and building strategies that put the needs of students first. 

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