BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology)

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.

Student using technology in a classroom with teacher guidance

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!

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12 Responses to BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology)

  1. Holly G. says:

    While I like the idea of BYOT, it makes me wary. I have not really heard about this idea before, and, while I have thought about it myself, I wonder how well it works. As you noted, there have been successes, but I think it really depends on the student body whether or not it would work. While I agree that the BYOT passes will help avoid many of the issues that comes with this idea, one of my biggest fears would be the theft of these technological items. I remember in school people would sometimes lose or break what they bring in or even have them stolen by other jealous students. Especially with items so valuable that some students may not be able to afford, I am afraid that this will happen with the students. As long as students and parents acknowledge the risk and rules of BYOT, though, I believe it has a high potential of being a great program for students, especially with technology being such an important part of their lives and futures. Thanks for pointing out this program!

  2. Elizabeth L. says:

    I agree with Holly. While the idea is a great one, I’m not so sure it would feasibly work in a school setting, especially in an elementary school setting. While we would like to think that students would follow directions and only look at specific websites online, they are going to get distracted, just like they do without a computer in front of them, and will eventually not even be listening to the teacher at all. I also think that this could create a very strong sense of privilege in the classroom that all of your students may not feel. For example, even if the more impoverished students would have the school computers available to them, it would still be emotionally detrimental for them to have to use resources provided to them by the school that other students can get on their own. Unlike things like free and reduced lunch programs, the student’s lack of ability to pay for a laptop would be apparent to his or her peers every time they were in the classroom, causing the overall classroom environment to be a lot more strained. Thanks for posting!

  3. Kyle W. says:

    I really like the idea of BYOT. I completely understand its challenges and downfalls, but I think the positives would ultimately outweigh the negatives. I think the biggest thing, which you pointed out in your post, is trusting students. If you can’t show your students that you trust them, why should they trust you? By establishing an environment of trust and respect, students will learn that they don’t have to sneakily text on their phones or check Facebook. If you establish that these are valid activities, just to be limited to specific times, then students will come to respect that. As far as highlighting financial limitations, I think the idea that BYOT frees up resources is a great point to make. And, in the real world, not everyone is going to have all of the same tools as everyone else. The sooner we can teach students to realize this and respect how these differences affect (or don’t affect) their interactions, the sooner they will be prepared for social interactions in the real world. On the whole, I think BYOT (especially the Kansas applied-for BYOT program) could be a really great idea in the classroom.

  4. Kate H. says:

    Allie, while the idea of BYOT is a great one, I have to agree with Elizabeth and Holly in that I have some hesitations about it in an elementary setting. Although there can be specfic requirements, such as the BYOT Pass, there are still going to be many problems that arise such as jealousy, difficulty of school technicians knowing everything about each machine, and the possibility of inappropriate use or lost/stolen technology. I think this would be a great idea for middle school or higher, but would probably cause more problems than solutions in an elementary classroom.

  5. Emily D says:

    I agree with Kyle on this one. The positives have to outweigh the negatives. Yes, while it may be difficult to monitor students every single second on their own devices, we must also realize that often students are off-task on the school-monitored ones as well. In my practicum the other day my teacher commented on how quickly students figure out the proxy system the school pays for in order to ensure students are not off-task and on inappropriate sites. I think we need to embrace the new generation and bring Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc. into the classroom, and by allowing students to bring their own technology, we will begin to connect how they use technology outside of class to how they use it in the classroom. It does not benefit anyone to keep technology use completely separate. I love your comment that schools could focus their resources on providing technology for those who need it most, and this way they will have the opportunity to gain a more complex understanding of it, as those with technology outside of school gain when they use it at home. I think this is a great idea, and I would love to have a class discussion in which we debate about this more!

  6. Maddy R. says:

    Allie, this was a very interesting post. We are always being told and reminded that technology is becoming more and more popular in the classrooms, but unfortunately many products are not always available to all schools or all students. So how can we take the information we are learning in CIS220 and apply it to our lives as a teacher if we end up in a school that is not able to afford laptops or computers or iPads? Your post really cleared this up for me and I’m sure many others, too. I think that they BYOT idea is brilliant. My younger sister goes to a high shcool where they are required to bring laptops to school everyday. It really helps the students stay organized and complete projects that they might need to do using different programs that they can download on their own devices. It also allows students to take what they were working on in class back home to edit and work on it outside of class int he comfort of their own home. All of their papers, videos, projects, and more are all right there when they step into their house after school and take their laptops out of their backpacks. In addition, however, it also gives students who do not have their own devices the opportunity to use the resources that the school provides while the other students can just work on their own computers. Trust is a huge issue in this great idea, but I think that if teachers and school clearly explain and enforce the rules for appropriate technology use and are consistent in their consequences, students will really get into the habit of using devices for schoolwork and BYOT can really be successful!

  7. Patrick C says:

    Allie, I would have to agree with some of the previous posts that while I like the idea of BYOT I am still hesitant. I like how you pointed out that the real world is increasingly becoming more and more technologically driven and students are growing up with more and more technology. I still am unsure though if you can control them and keep them focused. Also like it has been mentioned in prior comments it will be difficult for students who cannot afford to have their own technology. I could see this causing lots of resentment with students. I could see this idea gaining more favor though in years to come. Overall this was a great post, thanks for sharing.

  8. Hilary S. says:

    Allie, thank you for exploring this issue. I feel as though this is a dilemma that teachers face every day. I agree with many of the previous posts, a part of me thinks that students should be able to bring technology into the classroom. I think having students bring their computers or tablets to class could help engage students in their lessons and push them to think at a higher level about a topic. As others have mentioned, this could also cause many distractions in the classroom and even increase the gap between the “have” and “have-nots”. Students whose families cannot afford such electronics would feel uncomfortable and excluded from the activities. I think an alternative to having students bring technology to class could be having them only bring technology to class on special days, for example if it would be needed for a special group project. Great post!

  9. Meagan W. says:

    Great Post Ali, but I still don’t know how I feel about this idea! Part of me thinks bringing your own technology to class to help students but I also see all the negative side effects such as distraction! I think that if BYOT is being used at your school, clear rules, guidelines, and expectation need to be set before the program is even implemented. I know in my high school, it was very common for students to use laptops in class but it was very clear that it was used for notes only and that was respected. We knew that we had to get our work done in class, who wants homework just because they sat on facebook all of class and got nothing done? I think at the elementary level it would be hard to students to be using technology everyday in class but I think maybe having technology Tuesday’s for example could be fun and exciting for the students. Once a week they could use their laptops/iPads in the classroom and slowly earn more time with the technology seeing how they handled it. I loved how you included the survey in your post, great idea!

  10. Hollyz says:

    Allie, this was a really good post because it brings up a lot of important issues. I think that the idea of BYOT is a good one, but it also presents a lot of issues. For one, like you mentioned, not everyone has the ability to buy these expensive tools. It can become an issue when not all of the students have technology. It seems unfair to me to allow some students to have iPhones, laptops, etc when others can’t afford them. Another thing that would really concern me would be the distraction. Technology can be very beneficial when used in the right way, but it can also be very distracting if everyone has something different to use. The distraction issue especially concerns me with elementary aged children. I also think some children would be upset to see others with technology that they couldn’t have. Like others said, I loved the survey, great job!

  11. Erin M. says:

    Allie, I think this is a really relevant topic for contemporary education. It’s crazy how big this debate is now because it would not have been relevant when we were in elementary school. I didn’t even have a lap top until freshmen year of college, when I was growing up my family of six all used the one PC computer in our house.
    Personally as you already said, my concern would be that it would reveal the gap between students with different socioeconomic status as some students would bring in the most expensive and advance devices while others may not be able to afford that type of technology. However, after reading your blog post I can also see the other side of the argument of how beneficial it would be for students to be able to do this. Also in terms of money, it would be helpful for some students to bring in their own devices, so each person in the classroom could use one. Overall I do not think there should be a movement toward every student having to bring in whatever technology they own, but I do think that teachers should set specific guidelines for each of their classrooms that would allow students to possibly bring their technological devices to use for specific purposes.

  12. Christiana C. says:

    Allie, very interesting post. I think that having technology in the classroom is something that can be extremely beneficial to student learning. As you said, with the proper preventative steps taken to reduce distractions this would definitely be a great idea. But I’d have to agree with the others in that it would be extremely hard to keep enough focus for the ipads, laptops, etc. to be conducive to learning, especially in an elementary school environment. Maybe there could be some sort of way to put locks on certain websites that can be especially distracting to students? I don’t know if that would be possible to do on student’s personal computers, but it’s just a thought! Overall I loved your post and I think that it is something that is very relevant to all schools and grade levels today.

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