Managing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in schools
ICT, VLE, ADE – us technology in education folk just love abbreviations.
Despite our tendency to shorten complicated phrases, we seem to be somewhat puzzled by our latest acronym; BYOD, short for bring your own device, has divided opinion.
Whether to allow pupils to bring their own technology into the classroom – be it smartphone, tablet or laptop – is causing significant controversy. Will BYOD help schools to save money by reducing the investment in school owned ICT? Or, is permitting pupils to use their iPhones in lessons a security nightmare waiting to happen?
Whatever your views on BYOD in schools, making the switch to student owned technology requires a well thought-out plan. Here are our ideas about some of the things that you might want to consider when managing a BYOD scheme:
What happens if pupils forget their devices?
If pupils bring their personal laptops or tablets into school, they’re likely to want to take them home again at the end of the day. How else will they finish that blogging homework?
Unfortunately, when pupils bring equipment home from school, there’s always the risk that they might not bring them back to school the following day. Even the most organised pupil can forget something when they’re in a hurry. Combine busy mornings with early starts and it’s inevitable that, at some point, pupils will leave their laptops at home by accident.
So, you’ll need to have a backup plan if you don’t want pupils to share devices. One idea is to keep a bank of computers in a laptop charging trolley in a central location so that pupils can still access a computer even if they don’t have their personal devices with them.
What about those pupils that can’t afford their own technology?
It’s a simple fact of life that not everyone can afford the same things. It’s a reality that schools deal with daily and an issue that school uniforms go some way towards tackling.
Although some parents are more than able to kit out their child’s school bag with cameras, phones, laptops and maybe even an iPad, others just won’t. Wildern School in Hampshire has created a nifty solution to this problem – a genius bar. The bar provides school owned back up devices for when pupils aren’t equipped with a particular piece of technology and is manned by staff with the know-how to support and inspire users.
If having staff loan out equipment isn’t right for your school, you could invest in a self-service locker to manage the process for you. The Diplomat™ Library Management System (LMS) from LapSafe® Products can loan out fully charged ICT equipment to students using a smartcard system, recording who takes a device, how long they’ve taken it for and whether they return it to the cabinet or not.
What about looking after pupil’s personal devices?
Even if your school uses ICT across a range of subjects, there’ll still be times when pupils aren’t using their laptops, tablets or smartphones in class. How’re you going to secure each child’s device when they’re outside in the playground? How will you keep them fully charged so that they’re ready to be used later? Smartphone and laptop batteries won’t last for a full day (yet), and simply asking pupils to leave their valuable technology in their school bags won’t please the security conscious.
To get around this problem, you might want to consider investing in a laptop locker to keep pupils’ laptops, tablets or smartphones secure and fully charged. Such lockers, like the Diplomat™ and Ambassador™, come with individual locking bays to keep valuable IT safe. The Diplomat™ can be supplied with keyless smartcard access, eradicating problems associated with lost keys.
The BYOD debate is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Whether you’re pro pupil owned IT, or think BYOD in schools is just another technology fad, one thing is for certain; managing a BYOD scheme in schools requires careful planning and a lot of thought.