BYOD: OK or No Way?

August 14, 2013
CATEGORIES In the Classroom, Technology Integration

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are an increasingly popular way for schools to get technology into students' hands. With BYOD, students bring their own devices -- cell phones, iPod touches, tablets, and laptops -- for classroom use. But is it actually a good idea? We asked two teachers to weigh in on BYOD. Here’s what they had to say:

BYOD is definitely OK!
Jeremy Hyler
Language & Reading, Grades 7-8
Middleton, MI

Teaching in a rural school district has its challenges. You might expect that lack of technology would be one of them. However, after conducting a simple survey, I was amazed to discover the number of smartphones, tablets, and laptops my students own. Despite the fact that many of them lack Internet access at home and some can't even afford some basic necessities, they still have access to technology. Implementing BYOD not only saves my school district money, but also gives students the opportunity to learn safe and responsible tech use at school and helps them see their devices as tools for learning. 

Some teachers might argue that BYOD gives students access to inappropriate content and opens the door to distractions such as text messaging or online games. In addition, some educators feel BYOD adds more work to an already full plate. However, in budget-strapped schools and districts that may not otherwise have access to technology, BYOD allows educators to make use of the technology students do have access to while teaching them how to it responsibly. The landscape is vastly changing with the use of technology. It's our responsibility to prepare our students for the real world, where technology is abundant. BYOD allows us to do just that.

BYOD is a "no way!" (At least today.)
Cristina Quattrone
Reading Teacher, Grades 7-8
New Orleans, LA

While I have seen benefits of the BYOD model in the classroom, I find the cons far outweigh the pros. The simple truth is this: Teens have a hard time with impulse control. When a text, Facebook, or Instagram notification pops up during an academic task, will they have the willpower to look away? In my experience, the answer is no. Truthfully, even adults in the professional setting have trouble turning away from their electronic devices.

As a middle school teacher, I know my lessons need to be engaging, creative, and dynamic to keep students' attention. But I also know that any kind of social distraction -- including mean-spirited behavior with cell phones in the classroom -- is more appealing than analyzing Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. I believe the classroom is the perfect place to help kids develop sense of "time and place" with their devices, and when it's appropriate to connect face-to-face vs. screen-to-screen -- skills that are increasingly important in our 24/7 media culture.


Where do you stand? What advice would you give to a teacher or school district considering BYOD? Log in to leave a comment below!