BYOD Frustrations

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here and now that school is back in session I’ve got a few things back on my mind!

My school district has now entered the “BYOD” bandwagon (bring your own device). Every school is now a member of this program. While I fully support this program, the program needs to be taken with much caution.

One of my biggest irritants is the fact regarding our “mobile labs.” Next year, my school district will be out of our contract with the computers that we have had for the past 5 years. Since every high school is now BYOD, the school system feels an appropriate course of action might be to get rid of mobile labs (which are carts with 30 notebook computers which get taken to each classroom by period). This is a serious concern of mine.

Currently in my research class, I will be studying how many students want to bring in a “capable learning device.” To me, a smartphone is not a capable learning device…and sometimes a tablet isn’t either. Either a really high-end tablet, like an iPad with a keyboard, or a Surface, would be a capable learning device since it would have the capability to type notes, conduct research, create presentations, etc. (and of course a laptop is a very capable learning device).

What worries me is the fact that my school district will become dependent on students bringing in these capable devices – but our students aren’t dumb. They are concerned for their device’s safety (who wouldn’t be). “What if it gets lost? What if it gets damaged? What if it gets stolen?” When the school system has a clause in their technology contracts saying that they are not in any way liable to answer those questions – of course students are going to be deterred from bringing in their device.

So you have the problem that the school system doesn’t want to waste money (completely understandable), but they are depending on students to bring in capable learning devices…which the students don’t want to do. So what’s the solution? Cut out mobile labs and make the computer to student ratio 1:35?

Let’s make something clear, in 2014 the computer to student ratio should be around 1:3 or 1:2….if we lived in a perfect world it would be 1:1. Let’s encourage the students who want to bring in their device to do so by creating a welcoming environment for technology by designing lesson plans that incorporate technology, and by revising policies that if something did happen to a student’s device on campus, the school system would not be liable, but perhaps the school system could provide some kind of loner device in the interim. (I’m sure Central Office folks would love that idea)

We need to use the money for computers as best as we can. I still think that means having one mobile lab to rent out for classrooms…but I also believe that it means that the school system should have some kind of loner program…where perhaps students could pay to use a school-system computer for a reasonable amount per year…? The $500 price tag for even a tablet is pretty steep for some families…but maybe a $30 fee for an entire year is more manageable…and then at the end of the year the computer gets returned to the school system.

That’s what I want to happen. A more equitable chance for every person to have access to a computer. But then again…what do I know…I’m just a high school senior!

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