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BYOD in schools: Advantages and disadvantages

ISG Tech  |  January 19, 2016

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As highly advanced technology becomes more affordable, people are beginning to rely more on their own devices within the workplace. Using a smartphone or personal laptop for work purposes – a movement that’s been coined bring your own device – has been catching quite a lot of traction lately within the corporate world.

However, this trend isn’t just for businesses. Many people have suggested letting students utilize their own devices within the classroom as well. While this idea certainly has some good aspects to it, it also has some downsides. Here, we’d like to take some time here to discuss both so educators can have a fuller view of what a BYOD classroom would look like.

“The world is very quickly moving to a digital space.”

Advantages

Lower initial costs for schools
This is usually the first point of interest people like to focus on when discussing BYOD. The world is very quickly becoming ever more digital; as such, organizations need specific hardware in order to connect in an efficient and effective manner. This is just as true within schools as it is in the business world, as educators must make sure the next generation is prepared for the technologically advanced society that awaits them.

Gone are the days of classes in cursive, as they have given way to typing and coding courses. As such, many schools are struggling to stay current with the technology contained within their facility. With budgets being as tight as ever in most education environments, it makes a lot of sense to just let the kids bring their own devices.

The Pew Research Center stated that 58 percent of American teens had a tablet, while 73 percent of them personally owned a smartphone. These students could very easily bring their devices into the classroom, thereby increasing the number of usable machines while still keeping budgets low.

Students get to learn with familiar tech
A huge part of the educational process is connecting new knowledge with the old. It’s why students who are just learning how to write are asked to talk about their summer vacations and what they want for their birthday. It makes the process personal, and it is yet another big advantage to BYOD in schools.

When students use their own devices in school, they skip over that awkward part of class where they have to learn how to use the tech first before actually getting to the lesson. This not only wastes time, but it causes confusion that often is disruptive to the learning process. BYOD would allow teachers more time to discuss the actual lesson plan, while also increasing the receptiveness of the students.

BYOD promotes receptiveness in students. Students can learn more if they use their own devices.

Disadvantages

Disparaging to lower-income students
While BYOD is great for schools in more affluent areas, many regions of the country simply are not ready for it. Poorer students won’t have ready access to these devices, and forcing them to buy technology they can’t afford in the first place just to participate in the classroom simply isn’t an option.

While lower-income areas absolutely need technology-based learning within the classroom, doing so with a BYOD policy won’t work. Schools that work in these kinds of regions need to be aware of the financial situation of its student body and should therefore avoid implementing BYOD.

Can students be trusted with cybersecurity?
Poverty might be one of the most obvious of detractors from a BYOD policy, but the most poignant reason this trend might not work for your school is that teens are not exactly the most reliable in terms of policing their online habits. It’s not their fault, rather some teens simply don’t know how to avoid certain scams while using the Internet.

“16 million mobile devices suffered a malware attack in 2014.”

That being said, security is something to consider when thinking about a BYOD policy for your school. Motive Security Labs discovered that around 16 million mobile devices suffered a malware attack in 2014. Hackers are working constantly to access information stored on mobile tech, and allowing your students to use these devices for classwork could open your school up to a host of cyberattacks

Basically, school administrators need to come up with a system for making sure students don’t invite cybercriminals into their network. This could be the banning of certain high-risk websites, or even only allowing devices within the school to connect to a specific number of safe sites. Either way, it would be a mistake to allow students to govern themselves within a BYOD policy.

The verdict

When it comes to BYOD in schools, it really all depends on the facility itself and the people working within it. Enacting this kind of policy in a school is a lot easier said than done. There are a lot of variables to consider, and missing one tiny detail could result in a massive cyberattack that could cause a lot of damage to your facility’s reputation. That being said, there are also a lot of benefits to letting kids use their own devices. The monetary advantages are obvious, and teens are a lot more receptive to a lesson if they’re allowed to complete it using their own tech.

At the end of the day, it all just depends on what kind of school you run. If you have the time to police online activity and have a student body with a lot of personal devices, BYOD can do quite a lot for your school. If not, this trend might not be right for you and your students. BYOD is a fantastic move in the right direction for many corporate institutions, but implementing it within the educational space is going to take some time.

If you do plan on enacting a BYOD policy, you’re going to need some help. The cybersecurity aspect of this trend especially calls for professional experience, as your school’s private data is incredibly sensitive. Thankfully, ISG Technology can help you work out the kinks of a new BYOD policy. With years of experience helping people integrate BYOD into the workplace, ISG Technology can help bring your classrooms into the 21st century.

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ISG Tech

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ISG empowers organizations to realize their full business potential with unique technology solutions that help them connect, protect and innovate like never before. Part of the Twin Valley family of companies and a fourth-generation family business, ISG Technology has grown and evolved into a recognized leader in the area by aligning its success with the long-term success of its clients.
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ISG empowers organizations to realize their full business potential with unique technology solutions that help them connect, protect and innovate like never before. Part of the Twin Valley family of companies and a fourth-generation family business, ISG Technology has grown and evolved into a recognized leader in the area by aligning its success with the long-term success of its clients.

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