Teaching and Technology #3: Bring Your Own Device

In our third and final guest post in the Teaching and Technology series Holly Fairbrother, from the blog Exploring Learning, talks us through the importance of school’s encouraging Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programmes.


“Tomorrow’s work force is today’s students” (Sardone-Burns, 2014), therefore educators have a responsibility to prepare this work force for the way their world will operate - and many workplaces are already using BYOD. Adoption of a properly implemented BYOD programme, where “students bring their own devices to school for educational purposes” makes educational and fiscal sense not only as it reduces costs for schools but it also increases motivation, achievement, and engagement for learners (Costa, 2013). Children under 12 constitute one of the “fastest growing segments of mobile technology users” (Shuler, 2004). Madden et al (2013) found that 78% of teens have cell phones, 47% of which are smartphones, and BYOD is seen as “schools’ last best chance to make the needed immediate leap to a digital learning environment” (Costa, 2013).


Educational technology is a democratiser. Mobile technologies create ‘‘pockets of educational potential’’ (Shuler, 2004) that can break down barriers by allowing access to and processing of information “anywhere anytime” (Kim, et al., 2011). With “proper design and planning” (Carnoy and Rhoten 2002), mobile technology “has great potential to provide access to or supplement education” (Zurita and Nussbaum, 2004), but what is the impact on learning in terms of engagement and motivation? Whilst research is still in the early stages, existing studies of the value of BYOD and mobile technologies have “demonstrated increases in student achievement, engagement, motivation, and research skills”(Bebell & O'Dwyer, 2010). In 2014, Cristol and Gimbert conducted a study of 14-16 years olds using mobile learning devices (MLD) in the classroom. Their findings suggest that average test scores for learners using MLDs showed a “25.5 point increase as compared to their peers who do not”. Overall, findings suggest that when effective mobile learning is incorporated into a receptive learning environment, student achievement will increase” (Cristol & Gimbert, 2014). Perhaps, more importantly, failure to expose learners to technology in school places them at a distinct disadvantage.


BYOD policies have the power to “effectively supplement school programs, especially for communities where general technology infrastructure and educational resources may be seriously lacking” (Kim, et al., 2011). Implementing a well thought out BYOD programme allows students to use their own devices in the classroom which engages and empowers them, as they have at their disposal, “the tools they use to navigate the world…the tools [they] are most comfortable with, which, according to Tucker (2015) are “two factors that translate into more meaningful, relevant, and engaged learning”. The digital divide is therefore no longer due socio-economic terms, but one that widens due to the opportunities and advantages provided within the classroom.


To read more articles about teaching and technology take a look at the other blogs in the series, and to read more interesting articles from Holly visit her blog here.  

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