Why bring-your-own-device programs are the future of education

Why bring-your-own-device programs are the future of education

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is an approach to education that is gaining momentum across North America. With the right policy and infrastructure in place, BYOD has the potential to transform education by providing a cost-effective way to deliver technology to the classroom.

The School Technology Branch of Alberta Education defines BYOD as “technology models where students bring a personally-owned device to school for the purpose of learning.” In 2012, Alberta Education published “Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools” a comprehensive document that provides school authorities with a roadmap for implementing BYOD programs. The guide outlines the benefits of BYOD and examines policy and infrastructure considerations.

A 2018 article from Teach Magazine, “How Schools are Implementing ‘Bring Your Own Device’" reinforces the majority of the recommendations outlined by Alberta Education.

Why BYOD?

The Alberta Education report acknowledges that leveraging technology appropriately can:

  • Deepen student learning
  • Help students develop digital literacy
  • Prepare students to succeed in an increasingly high-tech world

Allowing students to use their own personal devices in school further enhances this effect because students will be using tools that they are already comfortable with. 

Teach Magazine echoes the value of personalization with the example of the Peel District School Board in Ontario. The Peel District worked with a research team to evaluate how best to integrate technology with the processes already in place in the district. The team recommended a BYOD program.

Peel District chose BYOD primarily because it allowed for personalization. According to Patrick McQuade, coordinator of instructional technology, business, and computer studies, BYOD facilitates better use of classroom time because teachers can concentrate on teaching the curriculum rather than teaching the use of software tools.

Policy considerations

The key policy considerations involve appropriate use of the devices, equal access, and security. Schools must ensure that students understand the devices are to be used for educational purposes only and train students how to be responsible digital citizens.

Schools also need to ensure all students have equal access to technology. In many cases, this means making a few school-owned devices available to students who do not have access to a device; while also working against any stigmas around “borrowed” vs. “brought” devices between the haves and the have nots. Therefore, schools can also establish community-based access points to the network.

Security policies can be implemented through infrastructure such as dedicated fibre optic network and an internal network that applies security filtering for all devices on the network. Dedicated fibre with a comprehensive MPLS network, enables industry leading data security.

Infrastructure considerations

Serving all students in a BYOD school requires a lot of bandwidth. According to Alberta Education, “with the introduction of personal devices, 100% of each campus will need seamless wireless coverage and will require an increased density of hub placement.”

In addition to addressing the internal Wi-Fi delivery, schools need to evaluate whether their current wired internet can handle the demands of a BYOD program. Peter Vogel, a physics teacher who writes about technology in education, told Teach Magazine “[BYOD] can save a school money on infrastructure and may foretell the end of dedicated classroom computer labs.”

Schools who upgrade to a dedicated fibre network will enjoy savings elsewhere, and they would be set up to scale with changing technology requirements. For example, with a fibre optic installation, a school would be able to save in telephone services by setting up a voice over internet protocol (VoIP) phone system.

In the video below, an Axia Customer, Golden Hill School Division, talks about the progress that has been made through VoIP and other innovations since the SuperNet.

The financial and educational advantages of BYOD programs are fast becoming impossible to ignore.

In the early 2000’s, telecommunications providers saw value in investing in urban centers, but Axia and the Government of Alberta (GoA) saw the dire need to eliminate the uneven distribution of connectivity for rural Albertans, and allow for a thriving rural population. Thanks to the Government of Alberta’s work in Education, Alberta schools have a fibre connection which enables deeper student learning on tools that they will be using in their future.

 

For more information on our secure fibre connectivity solutions, contact your Axia salesperson at sales@axia.com or 1-866-773-3348.

 

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