Is it time to adapt to BYOD?

Nikhil Eyeroor

The sight of kids glued to smart phones or other digital devices completely forgetting the outside world is no longer surprising. It is a fact that kids are obsessed with these digital devices. Educationists are wondering whether this inclination toward electronic gadgets can be diverted in a positive way. The concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) in schools sprouts from this thought. It is obvious that kids get distracted by the World Wide Web available on the digital devices. However, teachers supporting technology are optimistic that effective class management techniques can curb this downside of technology and create an academic environment that can stimulate a fruitful teaching-learning process in schools. If digital devices owned by students can be utilized in schools, digital literacy can be promoted among students under the supervision of teachers. The art of education is the creative utilization of student interest. This article is an attempt to invoke a stream of thought to utilize BYOD in schools.

What is BYOD?
BYOD is the practice of allowing students to bring their own digital devices and utilize them in school. BYOD is an acronym for Bring Your Own Device. It can be any digital device owned by the student.

Pedagogical issues
It is a reality that web-based tools and resources have changed the educational scenario. Effective technology implementation in pedagogy has become the need of the hour. Without doubt, judicious implementation of e-learning instructional technology can garner academic success in schools. Productive use of the information available online should be made familiar to kids by teachers with the help of digital devices.

byod The devices need not be confined to just smart phones. BYOD can include laptops, smart phones, tablet computers, e-book readers, audio and video MP3/MP4 players, etc. Restriction in the use of gadgets will lead to a generation of students who do not have the potential to address the issues that arise in the cyber-world. Schools should adopt policies to allow students to use their own digital devices in the classroom to supplement their studies. A flexible teaching environment will bring out the creativity of teachers and bring fun into the classroom which will help children focus on the here and now. There is always a downside to the excessive use of technology. It is true that students can become victims of online predators if they are not made aware of the dangers of the cyber-world. It is a dilemma among parents and teachers on how best they can limit the use of the Internet which contains both appropriate and inappropriate content for kids. Training students to use the Internet effectively should begin in schools. If students are aware of the use and misuse of technology they can enjoy creative learning with the aid of digital devices. As a result, the whole teaching-learning process becomes deeper, intellectual, and creative.

Arguments favouring BYOD

  1. Anywhere, anytime learning is promoted by the use of these devices.
  2. Collaborative learning platforms will help shy students to participate in a group.
  3. Unnecessary amount spent on hardware requirement can be positively spent on some other development in the schools.
  4. It is the greenest way to read. New generation kids are more comfortable e-reading than with conventional reading.
  5. Adoption of cloud technologies can be accelerated by the use of BYOD.
  6. It helps to build a virtual class unit for classmates and instructors.

Arguments against BYOD

  1. Encouraging BYOD will widen the gap between the rich and poor in schools.
  2. Devices are different and digital inequality may become an issue.
  3. Setting proper network infrastructure for the devices owned by the students will be a difficult task.
  4. With different types of equipment, configuration, software levels, troubleshooting the devices will be a hurdle.
  5. Students will be unable to resist the temptation of games and other entertainment available on the device.
  6. Concerns over e-safety, cyber-bullying, etc.

Conclusion
It is known that one of the functions of schooling is to help students interact with each other and learn social skills. If a system that encourages BYOD becomes an avenue to exhibit personal wealth, it will lead to a severe divide among students. Children should be taught about the issues related to the possible misuse of technology and at the same time teachers and parents should be technologically literate to monitor them. If we are keeping kids away from technology fearing misuse, it will be an unpardonable mistake that we will be committing in an age of technological growth. An outright ban on a smartphone or electronic gadgets in schools will not help. If BYOD is intelligently practiced in schools it can be an effective remedial measure. Weighing the pros and cons, schools have to decide whether they can adopt the technology in their classrooms. Let classrooms evolve with these digital gadgets until the time another technology seizes the hearts of our children.

The author is a library professional from Thiruvananthapuram. His research interests lie primarily in the areas of bibliotherapy and information behaviour. He can be reached at eyeroor@gmail.com.