The desk research and interviews carried out for this guide have enabled identification of a range of perceived benefits of BYOD which can be summarised under the following headings:
Improving the quality and effectiveness of teaching and learning
- The availability of students' devices facilitates innovative pedagogy and increases opportunities for learning through exploration and enquiry within and outside school.
- BYOD devices also increase the extent to which teachers can provide more differentiated learning activities for individual learners to meet their specific needs, learning styles and preferences, helping to:
- improve the motivation and development of more able students who can become disengaged and demotivated in mixed ability classes;
- motivate those students, perhaps particularly some vocational students, who may find traditional teaching methods and academic learning styles boring;
- better support less able learners and students with disabilities and special educational needs.
- BYOD devices enable individual students to access digital textbooks and other learning resources in many different locations.
- Students using their own devices, rather than school computers, have a more comfortable and personalised experience. They can complete tasks more quickly and be more in control of their learning as they have their own software that they are familiar with and their own bookmarks. They can focus more on the content of learning activities rather than the technology used to support these.
- The use of mobile devices, and particularly the use of students' own devices, for learning provides more opportunities for students to create their own learning materials in addition to using the devices to access educational content created by others. The built in data collection functions of mobile devices, including the ability to take pictures and record video, sounds, text and location information, facilitate this. A variety of sensors and apps can optionally be used with students' devices to collect other types of data, e.g. temperature or CO2 levels for use in science education. Students can combine, edit, share and add to data collected and created, contributing to increased communication, collaboration, peer-to-peer learning and project team working.
- Combining students' own devices with school Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) and/or systems/apps like Showbie makes assigning, collecting, reviewing and feeding back on student work very quick, easy and not dependent upon location.
- Using students' own mobile devices provides more opportunities for formative assessment, and combining them with online response systems enables fast digital feedback on students' progress and on which topics require additional explanation by the teacher.
- When students' use their devices for learning, this helps to develop their digital competencies beyond the use they make of their mobile devices socially, which may be quite limited and involve only a small number of the functions and opportunities available.
- Knowing students have their own devices with them at all times means teachers can decide at short notice to try something new in addition to planned activities.
- Students having their personal digital device/s with them at all times, supporting their learning inside school and out, assists them in the development of 21st century skills like communication, collaboration and creativity as well as information, media literacy and technology skills.
Improving the efficiency and sustainability of technology enhanced learning
- Improving the cost effectiveness of technology enhanced learning and enabling the introduction of 1:1 computing without increasing school spending on devices, are common goals of BYOD policies especially in times of austerity. Responsibility for purchasing mobile devices for learning is transferred to students/parents.
- BYOD can also enable the use of mobile devices for teaching and learning to continue beyond short term funded projects or pilots.
- Schools report that students/parents replace digital devices more frequently than school budgets allow. Thus making BYOD a more sustainable policy than school funded 1:1 computing. This results in the deployment of more up-to-date devices for learning.
- Buying, and/or developing locally, eBooks, digital learning materials and apps can be cheaper than buying and replacing conventional textbooks as well as enabling the addition of multiple media and an interactive learning experience. eBooks and digital learning resources can be more easily and quickly updated than printed material, helping to ensure that these are always up-to-date. They can also be designed to allow explanatory or enriching annotation by teachers, students and groups of students. There are also health advantages where students have been required to carry many heavy textbooks in backpacks. However, in some countries, e.g. the French speaking part of Switzerland, few digital textbooks are available and these have to be purchased bundled with printed versions.
- The introduction of BYOD often results in reduced school spending on desktop computers and may enable some computer classrooms to be re-designated as general purpose classrooms, thus allowing more efficient use of school accommodation.
- When students use their own devices, especially if these are chosen by the students, there can be a reduction in the resources required for training students to use these.
- Incidents of device loss and damage are reported to be lower when students use their own devices as they take more care of their own property.
- Where BYOD enables every student to have a digital device, there is less need for printing and photocopying, leading to reduced expenditure on paper, ink and photocopier rental.
- Where the school is not responsible for repairs or maintenance of student devices (this applies in some European schools at upper secondary school level), savings can be made compared with the cost of supporting school owned devices or with shared responsibility BYOD models in which the school does provide ICT support. Interviewees have reported that, where students have responsibility for maintenance, they are required to have insurance and/or to subscribe to an external support service.
- Implementation of BYOD policies and associated benefits in improving teaching and learning can enhance a school's reputation for innovation in general and the use of ICT in particular.
- A whole school approach to training and staff development required for introducing BYOD should lead to improvements in the digital literacy and pedagogical skills of teachers.
- Any initiative which requires rethinking of the way in which the curriculum is delivered, students are supported and teachers are trained should result in organisational benefits.
- BYOD offers a unique opportunity to bring the students' world and digital media usage into a school's protected environment and thus encourages reflection on the impact of digital media on learning.
Improving family engagement
- The process of consulting parents/guardians concerning BYOD necessitates involving them in discussions of their children's learning and how the school is organised.
- Communication between students, teachers and parents can be improved as a result of combining the use of students' own mobile devices with the use of learning management systems to share timetables, lesson descriptions, study resources, assignments, grades and information.
- The introduction of BYOD also prompts detailed and active dialogue with parents on the subject of the ethical use of ICT, the internet and mobile devices.
- BYOD increases the possibility of other members of families gaining some educational benefit from the student's mobile device, especially in families with limited experience of both learning and technology.