Technology opens so many doors for teaching in both positive and negative ways. On one hand it creates so many new resources, but on the other it allows access to more distractions and inappropriate freedoms for students. Some schools, are taking the bad with the good and implementing a new BYOT program or Bring Your Own Technology. BYOT allows students to bring in their own laptops, ipads, iphones, etc. to use in school as long as the use is appropriate and teacher guidance is provided. After reading more and more on this new and increasingly popular trend I found that there are so many positives and negatives to this, but if handled correctly and if preventative steps are taken for distractions, I believe this could be a truly successful idea.
One school that I looked at that had a successful BYOT program was the Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School. Students raved that they could increase organizational skills by having all papers in one place, not have to carry around heavy backpacks, and take more control of their education so that it was more beneficial to them. One thing in particular was a student who explained that when he didn’t understand something he could go back in the powerpoint on his computer, rather than having to interrupt the teacher and class and have them go back.
Some may argue that this isn’t fair for students who can’t afford their own technology like some students can, but Doug Johnson, the author of the book The Classroom Teacher’s Technoogy Survival Guide, argues that there are lots of positives to BYOT. He states that in allowing students to bring their own devices, you are also freeing up the schools limited resources so that they can be used by the students who don’t have what they other students may have at home. In most classrooms, due to constant budget cuts, there are only a few computers and dividing time for 30 students to use them is a major challenge.
There are, however, also many challenges that would be faced in allowing students to bring in devices. At this point in time there are softwares installed in school devices that protect them and monitor their usage. It would not only be costly, but would be nearly impossible to install software like this on all personal items of students in a school district. It would also be a challenge for school technicians to know of all the different applications available and how to fix and use them. There is also the issue of ensuring students are staying focused and aren’t distracted by social media and other websites or games.
Trusting students is key to this implementation being successful, which is why I think the idea used by a Kansas City school would be a great way to handle a lot of these issues. They have a policy where children can apply for a BYOT pass. They had to state how they would be using a given device for learning and promise to use it responsibly. They then received a BYOT sticker for that device, which they had to show to anyone who asked when they have their devices out around the school.
Technology is being used in all different places in the real world and work force. If its happening in the real world I feel that we should be preparing students for that in schools. Are we really protecting students in not allowing them to use technology or are we sheltering them and hiding them from the things they’ll face as soon as they’re out of school and working? What do you think about the BYOT idea? Do you think the pros outweigh the cons? What other ideas do you have to keep students safe and focused while still allowing them to use the tools we have today?
Check out this website for some great photos of students who brought their own technology!