How To Deal Effectively With The Growing Presence Of BYOD In Education
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Dealing Effectively With The Growing Presence Of BYOD In Education

BYOD is marking its presence in schools worldwide for many reasons – financial, educational, organizational, and technological. The major reasons are:

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  • Lack of funding to provide school-owned devices for each student.
  • Numerous devices supporting wireless internet belonging to students.
  • The comfort of using a device a student knows and is attached to.
  • Pressure from students along with rising parental support for the BYOD idea.

What is more, the most commonly indicated benefit associated with BYOD is increased level of student engagement. Using a private device makes learning more personalized and student-centered and, as a result, the educational setting becomes better connected to the student's personal world. Even though there is a big wave of appreciation towards BYOD, there are also voices proving that it disturbs the educational environment and even contributes to the idea that education is not worthy of increased investment.

BYOD Already Takes Place At A Large Scale

Regardless of various opinions, it is a fact that implementation of BYOD is not just a collection of single cases being a topic of academic discussions. School budgets are never comfortably sufficient and there is a continuous struggle to fulfill a variety of needs. From the budget perspective, BYOD is a tempting cost-saving solution. Schools don't have to spend money either on buying each student a device or on their later maintenance. Especially when a school has made its investment in WiFi and technology infrastructure, BYOD seems to be a natural next step to leverage it.

The number of BYOD implementations is increasing rapidly. In May 2016 in the UK [1] 9% of secondary schools reported they had some form of BYOD in place and a further 26% were exploring it. Also, the New York City schools began this process widely at the beginning of 2015. In The Hechinger Report [2], 29% of New York school districts encouraged BYOD already in 2014, and another 20% were developing such a program.

An interesting example of a decisive, broad implementation is Denmark’s City of Copenhagen, where BYOD has been implemented in 72 different schools totaling more than 37,000 students and staff. The students are using either school-owned personalized devices or their personal ones.

These are not just things that have been around for a couple of years. BYOD has made its presence in the educational environment for some time now. An interesting survey called ‘Impact of BYOD on Education’[3] was conducted in May 2013 by Bradford Networks. It questioned more than 500 IT professionals from colleges, universities and K12 school districts across the US and the UK. In the survey results, 72% of students used personal mobile devices for class assignments with 52% actually used their devices in classrooms. This trend is even more visible in higher education, as 89% of respondents stated they allow students to use their own devices on campus networks. The rising pressure from students and teachers is also visible, as the respondents from 84% of schools who do not currently allow BYOD stated that they received frequent requests from students and teaching staff to use their own devices on the school network.

The Obtained Learning Environment

If BYOD has such a wide reach, did it contribute to creating any standards among the devices used for education? It did. In short – no standard became the standard. BYOD school policies often include a ‘Device Requirements‘ section with the requirements concerning the minimum hardware and software parameters; however, there are no specific standards there. Moreover, there are many schools that do not set any specific criteria for the devices and a student can literally bring any device that can be connected to the Internet. In consequence, the learning environments created when students bring their own devices to school are completely diverse. We are dealing not only with various operating systems or screen resolutions, but also with varied quality and capabilities of the devices. In the light of this, educational content must be prepared for all methods of use. If it is not working properly for a considerable part of a class, it won’t be used in the class at all. On the other hand, if the provided educational materials allow for an effective experience on all or at least most of the devices available in class, we can count on a wide and steady use of such materials in schools.

4 Pillars For Creating A BYOD-Ready Teaching Content

At Learnetic we have been watching the BYOD trend for some time now. When developing our mAuthor authoring tool we always take into consideration its growing presence. Here are 4 principles we use to assure effective compliance with an unstructured diversity of devices.

1. Device Agnostic Content Player

When content is created in Learnetic’s mAuthor, its data, structures, and look and feel is separated from its functionality. The data is interpreted by the player that generates HTML5 code and can be run on different operating systems and devices. Thanks to this approach, once a new device or an operating system appears on the market, instead of adjusting thousands of content pages, it is sufficient to make an appropriate update of the player. There is no need to touch the previously created content.

2. Semi-Responsive Design

It is possible to predefine layouts of the teaching materials created in mAuthor. When opening a lesson, depending on a screen size, an appropriate layout is automatically chosen and displayed to a student. How is it different from responsive design? The layouts are still in the publisher's control. Therefore, the educational concept of each screen and the Instructional Design settings will not be lost. The educational content is delivered in a structured and controlled way and can play its role properly, in accordance with the author’s initial concept, on any device a student brings to class.

3. No Need For The Newest And Hottest Devices

Any middle-shelf, middle-aged smartphone will do. The lessons created in the tool do not have significant system demands and can work smoothly on many less powerful devices. Without sufficient performance, a BYOD lesson can turn into a chaotic and uncomfortable event that will not bring expected educational results. Therefore, any new features implemented in mAuthor are sure to be working on all devices supporting HTML5, not only powerful new ones. You never know which device a student will use.

4. Keeping With The Digital Natives’ Expectations

And of course, there is one thing we cannot forget: the digital natives that utilize our content! With all devices, the created content must be interesting, intriguing, and truly interactive. Digital education cannot stay behind other digital solutions of today's world. mAuthor provides over a hundred of functional modules that aid the creation of all kinds of engaging interactive activities.

Summary

Regardless of all the discussions about the pros and cons of BYOD, we can assume that it will become more prevalent moving forward. When browsing the web, we can see more and more schools sharing their BYOD experience and BYOD policies. Therefore, along with the constant growth of BYOD, the importance of elasticity and device agnosticism of the provided courses will also grow. An authoring tool that aids in keeping up with this trend and allows providing a high level of interactivity at the same time is a must-have for every ambitious digital publisher of today’s education.

If you want to learn more about how technology can greatly enhance the classroom experience, download the eBook To Be, Or Not To Be? The New Challenges Of Educational ePublishing.

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1. 4 Ways To Leverage Big Data In Education

2. Educational ePublishing: 7 Key Factors For The Selection Of An Authoring Tool

3. The Future Of Educational Publishers

4. eBook: To Be, Or Not To Be? The New Challenges Of Educational ePublishing

 

References:

  1. BYOD, Is it right for your school?
  2. New York City schools ask students to ‘Bring Your Own Devices’
  3. New Survey Finds 85 Percent of Educational Institutions Allow BYOD Despite Security Concerns
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