BYOD - Bring Your Own Device

Scenarios and implementation models

It may be useful to consider other ways in which mobile devices are provided to and used by learners in schools in order to see BYOD in context.

Mobile devices may be chosen, paid for and supported by the school (or, dependent upon the location and context, by the school's funders, or the funders of a mobile learning initiative, which may include governments, local education authorities, sponsors or NGOs). In this situation the school usually specifies where the devices can be used i.e. only in the classroom, within the school or both in school and outside.

It is unsurprising that where devices have been purchased by a school, or their funders, staff may be reluctant to allow these to be used outside of school due to the risks of loss, damage or the device being left at home when needed in school. This restriction reduces the benefits to be gained by having mobile devices capable of supporting learning at home and in the community. When mobile device use is limited just to a classroom during lessons this further restricts the benefits which could be realised, many of which are dependent upon both the use of mobile devices in authentic learning situations and learners personalising and feeling ownership of their device.

Restricting access to supervised use in the classroom can also encourage a misconception by teachers that mobile devices do not offer any significant advantages over desktop computers.

In some schools BYOD may begin in an informal, ad-hoc way as teachers begin to recognise that students' own devices could be useful in the classroom. Alternatively, introduction may be a carefully planned, strictly controlled and monitored process with clear aims and objectives.

It may be helpful when thinking about BYOD to consider some example scenarios:

Scenario 1: Informal single teacher innovation

  • One teacher in a school allows students to bring their smartphones into classes and collaborates with them to find ways to use these to support learning.
  • The teacher is motivated by a desire to try something different to engage hard to reach students.
  • The teacher does not seek permission and may even be acting against official school policy. School leaders may be unaware BYOD is occurring.
  • The teacher may or may not share information with other teachers and encourage others to try BYOD but, if they do, BYOD can slowly spread and some benefit will be seen.
  • Impact is dependent upon an individual teacher's ability to enthuse others and all BYOD may cease if that teacher leaves. 

Scenario 2: Voluntary BYOD for older students

  • A school principal decides to allow students in the senior years to bring mobile devices into school to support their learning.
  • Teachers are encouraged but not required to allow use of the mobile devices in their classes.
  • Teachers are offered technical training and may attend workshops on the pedagogical uses of mobile devices if they are interested.
  • The IT department/administrator does not have any responsibility for the students' mobile devices but does allow them to connect to a school Wi-Fi network.
  • Some ICT literate students are rewarded for providing support for their peers and advice to teachers.
  • Pockets of good practice will develop and some students will benefit. Some students will not bring devices to school and some teachers will not allow use in their classrooms or will not fully exploit the potential of the students' devices to enhance teaching and learning.

Scenario 3: Planned and controlled whole school approach

  • A secondary school principal decides, in consultation with teachers and other stakeholders, to require all parents to fund tablets for their children to make the introduction of tablets for teaching and learning affordable and sustainable.
  • In order to make technical support by school IT staff and staff training as easy as possible, to avoid any parental or societal concerns about potential inequalities and to obtain an attractive price for parents due to bulk purchasing, it is decided that all the devices will be identical.
  • The school invests in enhanced broadband and upgrades the Wi-Fi network to cater for the planned increase in traffic.
  • A project team plans and oversees implementation of the school wide BYOD strategy. Training courses and workshops plus both technological and pedagogical support are arranged for teachers. All teachers are informed that they will be required to use the tablets in their lessons. Arrangements are made to monitor progress and evaluate impact.
  • BYOD is likely to be successfully implemented throughout the school. There may be issues with IT staff restricting how and when devices and on-line services are used and students may feel less ownership as the type of device was dictated by the school.

Where the introduction of BYOD has a clear aim this may be to support significant changes in the school's teaching methods in order to improve student engagement and achievement. Achieving such an aim involves working to ensure that the technology brought in is fully integrated into day-to-day teaching and learning throughout the school. This may involve significant culture change and is likely to be achieved in stages. Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

Processes for, or progress towards, transforming businesses or fully integrating technology into organisations or educational institutions are often illustrated using a four or five step transformation model, e.g. Venkatraman's five levels of business transformation achieved through the use of IT (Venkatraman & Henderson, 1993) or Puentedura's SAMR model (2009), which informed e-learning benchmarking and e-maturity work by UK education-sector agencies such as Becta (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency).

These models typically lead up through the Enhancement stages of:

  • Substitution, where technology acts as a direct tool substitute with no functional change; and
  • Augmentation, where technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvements

and then the Transformation stages of:

  • Modification, where technology allows significant task re-design (sometimes called the ‘process and network redesign' stage); and
  • Redefinition, where technology allows the creation of new tasks previously inconceivable.

This type of model can be used to explore and review key strands of strategies for introducing BYOD, including for example key choices and how the process will be managed, how BYOD devices will be supported and access the internet, where they will and will not be used, their pedagogic use and the kind of training and professional development that will be provided for teachers. Consider the following example model. It should be noted that an individual school may be at different stages for each strand of their strategy. For example, a school could be at the status quo stage for ‘governance and choice' but may be at the modification stage for ‘teacher development'.