BYOD - Bring Your Own Device

BYOD guidelines and recommendations

The following recommendations have emerged from both the interviews and reviewing the outcomes of previous BYOD studies and initiatives. For some recommendations we perceive a strong consensus, whereas others are presented more as suggestions for approaches that ‘may' be useful in some circumstances.

This initial guide does not attempt to include a comprehensive roadmap for implementing BYOD. The problem with trying to produce such a roadmap is that the context and culture of schools varies a great deal between and within countries and this is reflected in chosen approaches to BYOD.

The simple "Snakes and Ladders" infographic in section 10.3, therefore, is offered as one illustration of the journey that some schools are currently undertaking and a few of the challenges they are meeting along the way as they try to develop and implement a BYOD strategy. It is not intended as a complete guide to implementation but may provide some useful pointers, reminders and talking points for school leaders, teachers and policy makers.

The Interactive Classroom Working Group will be further developing these recommendations as more case studies are collected and further work related to BYOD is carried out.

Top 15 tips for teachers getting started with BYOD

1 - Be clear about what you are trying to achieve; what educational challenge(s) are you/the school trying to address and how do you expect using students' devices to help?

2 - Check school regulations/policies; students' mobile devices may be banned or use restricted, and discuss with your students acceptable use and acceptable behaviour. Develop, at least, an informal verbal agreement that, if this is to work, they need to be responsible.

3 - Discuss with IT support staff security arrangements to enable BYOD devices to get online in school; how well will internet access perform with a whole class online at the same time? Are there restrictions you should be aware of? For example: are some websites blocked by school filtering?; is there adequate Wi-Fi in the classroom you will use?

4 - Ask students what devices they have and consider how these can be used for learning.

5 - It is important that you familiarise yourself with tools/software/apps you plan to allow students to use, although you do not need to be fully proficient with all possible devices. Read about privacy issues and age restrictions for these; some need parental agreement and some may not suitable for children.

6 - Find out more about using students' mobile technologies in the classroom by:

  • Reading about the BYOD experiences of other teachers and projects.
  • Joining an online forum or community of practice for advice and support (if one is available).
  • Viewing online video exemplars of teachers using these technologies in their classrooms.
  • Asking the school's teacher champions for help and support.
  • Enrolling in a relevant online course if available (e.g. from the European Schoolnet Academy or national/regional ministry or agency).

7 - Very carefully plan the first lesson, focussing on the learning outcomes and how the technology can help achieve these. Consider how you will assess the lesson and do not be too ambitious at first. If possible, try out your plans with other teachers. In some countries or schools specialist educational technologists or instructional designers may be available to assist with this planning.

8 - Consider the layout of the classroom, and whether this needs to be changed to facilitate effective collaboration, communication and/or independent work. Test Wi-Fi and internet in the room in advance. Remind students to have their devices fully charged before the lesson starts and have extra chargers and power extensions available.

9 - Be sure that every student has a device. If some students do not own a suitable device, arrange loans or for students to work in pairs or small groups. Be prepared to help students or find a tutor from among the students who is more familiar with specific devices.

10 - Carefully consider students with special educational needs, including how using the device will help them achieve their goals and plan differentiated activities to suit their individual needs.

11 - Consider setting up an online classroom/workspace, or how existing school systems can be used, for students to store their work electronically and for you to assign and assess their work online. Using an online platform which parents can access will help to demonstrate to them the learning benefits of using these technologies in the classroom. It will also promote active involvement of parents in their children's learning.

12 - Select and practice using a small number of recommended apps and make sure they work on all devices to be used. Getting students to install apps on their own devices before the lesson saves time and effort. You might find it easier to avoid using apps at first and just use online resources via the browser on students' devices.

13 - Have technical support available if possible and enlist the help of technically able students. Do be willing to learn from your students but do not assume they are all "digital natives".

14 - Have backup activities in case things do not go as planned. This can include using apps offline where they do not connect to online resources.

15 - Do not be afraid to make and learn from mistakes. Evaluate how the lesson went, what worked and what you need to change next time.

And remember to share your experiences with other teachers. 

15 recommendations for school leaders implementing whole school BYOD

1 - Be clear about why you want BYOD

  • Is it part of a larger ICT school strategy and do you understand what is driving the idea?
  • What are your specific aims and objectives, both short term and long term?
  • Consider all aspects - pedagogical, organisational, technical and legal.

2 - Develop a funding model. 

​A funding model needs to be in place to:

  • fund the required school infrastructure improvements (e.g. upgraded broadband,Wi-Fi, online learning environment, new presentation technologies).
  • provide a model which parents/students can engage with to provide /purchase devices and other associated resources.
  • ensure that all students are included regardless of parents' ability to pay.

Do not assume BYOD will always save money, although it may do. Savings may be made on device provision but you may need to invest more in infrastructure and providing IT support within the school or as a "managed service" using an external supplier.

3 - Engage parents in discussions at an early stage, they will want to know the benefits and costs and will have concerns that need to be addressed.

4 - Create a team of ICT champions, comprising enthusiastic teachers and other stakeholders. Select a member of the school leadership team who is committed to the project to be the management ‘champion'. Identify teachers and ICT staff who are keen, and can win the hearts and minds of reluctant colleagues concerning the implementation of the BYOD model in the school. Be aware that your plans may change teachers' professional responsibilities and may require careful discussion with teachers and possibly with their unions. Input from parents and student representatives should be encouraged.

5 - Review existing policies concerning data and information security, privacy, safeguarding, inclusion and acceptable use in discussion with teachers, ICT staff, students and parents. Consider carefully where policies lie on the continuum between over protecting and unacceptable risk and be clear how you will address risks.

6 - Do not start without fast, robust connectivity and adequate technical support. Early technical failures can damage staff confidence and motivation. Audit your ICT infrastructure and upgrade as necessary:

  • Do you have reliable and fast broadband?
  • Does the construction of your buildings block Wi-Fi signals? Are there any regulations concerning making changes to your buildings, e.g. listed/historical building status? What strategies are needed to overcome these difficulties?
  • Do you have Wi-Fi in all classrooms and in areas where students congregate? Can this Wi-Fi serve a large number of concurrent users?
  • Will current ICT support staff be able to implement and support a larger, enhanced network? Will you need to outsource some of the work involved? Investigate different options for mobile device management (MDM) systems which will automate or simplify some aspects of technical support. Do you need external expert advice?

7 - Analyse your catchment area and survey students/parents to ascertain socio-economic context and existing nature and level of device ownership within each year group. This information will inform your choice of

  • BYOD model.
  • Supplied/supported devices.
  • Arrangements for loaning devices and/or providing financial assistance to less well-off students and their families.

8 - Consider alternative BYOD models (see Section 4 "BYOD Scenarios and implementation models"). Which is most appropriate for your school? A SWOT analysis may be helpful:

  • What are the school's Strengths and Weaknesses in terms of preparedness for implementing BYOD?
  • What are the Opportunities offered by different BYOD models? What are the Threats or risks associated with each model?

9 - Will students be able to bring any mobile device to school or will you insist that they use a specific or limited number of devices as recommended by the school?

10 - Consider different implementation strategies and select one which best fits the culture and context of your school. A phased, 3-step approach has the advantage of providing time to try out BYOD, identify and share best practice, iron out issues and decide and communicate necessary changes in teaching methods. The 3 steps are:

  • Start with one or a few classes (using existing infrastructure) and informal experimentation.
  • Implement for a whole year group (having upgraded the infrastructure, delivered staff training and put in place on-going professional development and support), then review. If the desired learning outcomes were achieved and the project was successful, move to step 3.
  • Progressively roll out to the whole school (with on-going monitoring, adjusting and evaluation).

Some schools have taken a "big bang" approach, implementing across the whole school at the same time. This is a high risk strategy which requires very clear vision coupled with substantial and comprehensive preparation in the areas of institutional culture, pedagogy and technology.

11 - Develop policies for choosing, buying/licensing and distributing digital learning resources, apps and digital tools in cooperation with teachers and ICT staff:

  • What are the pedagogical quality requirements?
  • What are the technical requirements?
  • How will you ensure compliance with security and privacy policies?
  • Are there costs for using resources and tools in the long term or with more students?
  • How will the support and maintenance of chosen resources and tools be handled?
  • What are the procedures for distributing resources and tools to new students/teachers and, if necessary, for recovery of these from students and teachers no longer at the school?

12 - Provide training and on-going professional development for teachers, including:

  • Project based training opportunities with peer mentoring rather than a single course with limited follow up.
  • Opportunities for staff to share their practice with other teachers at staff meetings in the form of short presentations/how-to's.
  • Organisation of in-house continuing professional development led by members of the team of ICT champions.
  • Providing opportunities for teachers to visit each other's classrooms, observe lessons and engage in peer to peer learning.
  • Helping teachers to develop their own learning resources.

13 - Provide pedagogical as well as technical support for teachers. Where possible, provide time for teachers to plan collaboratively within their subject disciplines how they will incorporate the use of BYOD devices to enhance learning.

14 - Enable teachers to spend time experimenting and give ‘permission to fail'.

15 - Continually review your BYOD implementation plan and make changes and improvements where necessary. Encourage on-going feedback from all stakeholders. How will you recognise and measure success? 

Technical recommendations

The recommendations for school leaders (Section 12.2) advise "do not start without fast, robust connectivity" and the obvious questions which will be asked are, "what is fast?" and "how do we ensure our service is fast and robust?".

Ministries of Education in the Interactive Classroom Working Group plan more work in this area in collaboration with industry partners. Meanwhile this guide can provide a few pointers.

It is difficult to provide precise guidance on technical infrastructure and services as they are very context specific; for example bandwidth available to end users varies according to factors such as:

  • the size and structure of school buildings
  • the number of students, teachers and other staffs' devices used in school
  • the curriculum, which may include particular specialisms, and the teaching methods employed and the resulting amount of online activity, including how much material is uploaded and downloaded and the nature of this material, e.g. how much is bandwidth hungry items such as high quality images and videos
  • school policy regarding access to bandwidth hungry services, e.g. do staff and students need to, and are they permitted to, access social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook and video conferencing services such as Skype and cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple iCloud etc.
  • the nature of administrative and operational processes.

The Education Network (NEN), who describe themselves as "A group of not for profit and public sector regional organisations working across the UK to bring high quality, future proof broadband services, independent ICT advice and online educational content to schools, academies and other educational settings", have published useful advice on a number of technical issues of interest to school leaders including: Selecting Broadband Connectivity; Protecting your school network; Cloud computing; eSecurity issues and BYOD (NEN 2013).

The Government of Alberta in Canada have also published BYOD advice for schools which includes useful information on Access and Infrastructure Considerations (Alberta Education 2012) as well as an earlier guide on Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) Best Practices (Alberta Education 2011).