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EdTech Update




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BYOD - to work

67% - Number of staff using a personal device for work, authorised or not, according to Microsoft research 

On my flight from Narita to Manila I was reading the Financial Times (no Kindles on takeoff and landings) when to my surprise I found an entire section on Bring Your Own Device.

But not as applied to schools, but to workplaces.

It seems many "real world" employees would rather be using their personal devices when at work than the equipment provided by their company. We've seen this in our school district with administrators not wanting to carry both a school phone and a personal phone - especially when the ones we provide are pretty cheesy. 

Think about it. Would you rather drive a "company" car or be reimbursed for mileage on your own car?Would you rather wear a uniform or dress yourself? Eat at the company cafeteria or brown bag it? 

I know what I'd choose. While I have a school-owned desktop computer in my office that I use, I really prefer my personal MacBook Air. I gave my personal iPad to my son and use the iPad provided by the district, but it is linked to my personal iTunes account and feels like my personal device. No company cellphone for me and I don't give my iPhone number out. (A sensible use of a cellphone is only using it to harass others.)

So, what might happen if instead of providing a computer for every teacher, we provided a "computer stipend" instead, of say, of $500 a year? The teacher would own the machine - chosen from a list of computers with specific specifications - and be required to use it on the job.

Is personal preference a good argument for a student BYOD program rather than a 1:1 initiative? If I, as a student,  can do the same work on my Google Nexus tablet as I can be done on a clunky, heavy, school-provided, oft-crashing, 3-year-old MacBook Pro provided grudgingly by the school, shouldn't I have the right to a device of my own preference? 

As our devices become more and more extensions of our brains and eyes and ears and vocal chords, I sense that personal choices in devices will become more, not less, important. And making either student or teacher use a school mandated device will be cruel and unusual punishment.

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Reader Comments (6)

I would say, that in a perfect world where the things we do on computers work on anything, the answer would be the BYOD for staff and students would be somewhat of a no-brainer. Unfortunately, I think our environment is a little more complicated by the specific tools we utilize and the dependencies they create.

It is a good reason for people in your job (and mine) to think of how best to simplify the environment and get our habits and choices in line with uses that can be performed on any device. (Easier said than done, but still good strategy).

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoel VerDuin

Doug, I completely agree with the idea and comfort in BYOD at work. Although I love my 21" iMac on my desk, I would much rather have a laptop (even if that means having a smaller screen) so I can carry my work portably around with me, including my own iTunes account connected so I can work to tunes I love. And the thought of my employer giving me $500 a year to invest in technology simply makes me feel giddy inside.

But then the logical side of me kicks in--the side that repairs and troubleshoots the technology in my district and I cringe. I have enough trouble "fixing" the several kinds of devices we have in our building (after all, if it plugs in to a wall, I must know how to fix it), let alone then opening up the flood gates of devices that would come my way. Nooks, Kindles, iPads, tablets, phones, computers (Mac and PC), Netbooks, etc. If we were to employ such a policy, I would need a Geek squad to come with it.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Burnham

Teachers = BYOD with a stipend
Students - use one machine with one set of programs

I would much rather grade and assess students knowing that I was going to get some consistency (not that they all write or produce the same information, but that I will be able to open, read and assess each one with minimal difficulty).

I might be the wrong person to ask, but I know of a number of ways, products, apps, devices that I use that get my work done faster than the "usual" academic tools. Let me get my work done they way I want to and you will have an even happier employee.

October 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKenn Gorman

Hi Joel,

We have always tried to select digital resources that can be used on as wide an array of platforms as possible since our students' families had an array of platforms at home. The move to web-based resources has greatly helped us do this (and when HTML5 finally replaces Flash, even better.)

Good point!


Hi Maria,

Great point. We've drawn a line in offering tech support: We help kids get online and on to GoogleApps with their devices, and that is all the trouble-shooting we do. We've not seen a huge support issue - yet, anyway.


Hi Kenn,

Yes. What's the difference creating and editing a GoogleDoc on an iPad, a netbook, a Windows laptop, a Droid phone, etc? The end product should be the same. Who cares if you drive a car or pickup, a Ford or Toyota - so long as you get to the party on time?


October 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

When talking with our Tech Director about going in the BYOD direction - staff included - he brought up the idea of a stipend. My eyes got a little wide, because I never thought of it critically from that perspective. Another layer of tough discussions...not a bad thing. Just different from what they are used to.

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNathan Mielke

Hi Nathan,

When our principals and directors insisted on having smartphones, our district decided to subsidize personal admin phones to the tune of about $50 a month. Seems like a win/win so far. Some set up issues initially for our department, but over all no hassles.

Why not the same thing for tablets, laptops, etc? Some security piece to put in place and understandings about whether personal devices can be monitored.


October 11, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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