The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, a recent trend that has been redefining the corporate world, offers some intriguing possibilities for implementation in schools. It can also introduce a new set of challenges for educators, from security concerns to classroom control policies. Using school-funded computing devices to take advantage of the expanded opportunities for classroom exploration that the internet offers may simply not be a viable possibility for some schools, but the costs would be defrayed by students bringing their own devices. Other schools could benefit from devices like tablets, which can increase mobility within the classroom.
Some critics and analysts, including StudyMode CEO Blaine Vess, have argued that advanced technology in the classroom is a vital component of 21st century learning, from the dual perspectives of expanded resources and teaching children to interact with the technology that will become an important part of their adult lives. While he acknowledged that smartphones can be sources of student distraction, he appealed to the reality of 21st century lifestyles – that smartphone use is everywhere, all the time, and it may be impractical to wage a battle against it in the classroom.
"Banning mobile devices from the classroom would likely have the opposite effect, with students rebelling, ignoring the policy and in turn, hindering effective performance," wrote Vess. "If the current workforce is any indication of the future, today's students need to have the freedom to work on their own devices as adults, so they can hone the essential skills of filtering out distractions proposed by mobile freedom early on."
Strategies for mobile device management in schools
Mobile device management often falls to an entity that is not the device's actual user – corporations for business users or parents for children – practices that educators will have to emulate. The first step to BYOD classroom management could be in determining which device will be allowed to augment or substitute for classroom computers. Smartphones may be a better solution than laptops since they're easier for students to transport, and because they're cheaper, better bridging the gap between students' family incomes.
By embracing BYOD instead of shunning it, teachers can better enforce mobile application control. Teachers can instruct students on what applications can and cannot be downloaded and used in the classroom. Blocking applications can help keep distracting and potentially hazardous downloads off of students' devices and the school's network. While BYOD necessitates more user responsibility for his or her device, schools can protect their networks with software layered security while teaching students about safe techniques for computer usage.