To B(YOD) or Not to B(YOD)

That is the question…

My scenario starts like this:  My classroom has had close to a one-to-one ratio of tech to students.  Some of the equipment will need to be replaced.  The question is, do I maintain the status quo with desktops and a few floating laptops and iPads, or do I take the plunge and push for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?

After searching my resources for an answer to this question, it seems that this topic causes conflict among educators, administrators, tech support, and parents.  For example, in the post, 5 Reasons why BYOD is a bad idea for Schools,  appearing in the blog, Emerging Ed Tech, Kelly Walsh (2012) cites major reasons for rejecting BYOD

     Equipment Inequity, Tech Support, Bring Your Own Distraction, Internet content filtering, and“MBTY” (Mine is Better Than Yours) Syndrome.   

To determine if BYOD could even become a consideration, one has to inquire as to how personal devices could be utilized in a classroom.   Check out this YouTube video created by Jaymee Bohmer two months ago:

In Peter DeWitt’s (2012) post in Education Week, he asks the question, Are Schools Prepared to Let Students BYOT?  The article outlines a number of important questions that districts and individual schools must ask themselves before deciding to tackle such an undertaking.  They include safety issues, staff development, defining what is meant by BYOT (BYOD), and new policies which must be put into place.

The push for BYOD in the classroom started with vigor in 2012 (at least, that appears to be when most of the articles, either for or against, were written).  I contacted several bloggers regarding their updated opinion of the matter.  The following questions were posed:

  1. What type of technology do you feel best suits the middle- and high school students presently?  What types hardware are currently used?  This would pertain to laptops, desk tops, or BYODs.
  2. Is BYOD a consideration?  If yes, then how is the school dealing with different platforms involved?  If no, what are the issues at hand preventing this to be a consideration?
  3. How would you say that technology is supported by a) the educators  b) the students c) the administration d) the parents?

I received one response.  This was from Doug Johnson, Director of Technology for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) Public Schools  whose post, BYOD and the School Supply List,  attracted my attention.  He wrote

 Since 2014, we found BYOD did not give us the results we wanted so have now moved to a true 1:1 initiative. Equity was a primary driver. 

As I was still looking for more first-hand experience, I sent these questions to two other professionals.  These individuals are not bloggers, but they have definitely explored this question.  The first, Gary Finkel, Director of Technology at Island Village Montessori (k-12) in Venice, Florida, sent back the following responses:

  1. Laptops, desktops and tablets
  2. No I would not consider BYOD as this may cause a security issue with the network.
  3. All systems are supported by an administrator. This ensures the network is secure and a safe environment for students and educators to work.

The third response I received was from Major Becky Morris, Assistant Head of School, Sarasota Military Preparatory School, Sarasota, Florida:

  1.  I think it is important to use technology that is accessible to students both at school and home.  This means using an online platform that is available on mobile devices as well as computers with hardware that supports Internet access.  It is important to have technology that is current and responsive.  Using old computers that are slow or unable to use updated software is pointless.For students, we use mostly hardwired desktop computers: 5 in each classroom, 50 in a media center, and 24 in each of 2 design labs.  Teachers also have their own desktop computer, iPad, and a large screen TV with Apple TV to display from computer or Apple device.  
  2. Right now at the middle school level, BYOD is not a current consideration.  We do not have the resources to allow for monitoring safe use of personal devices at this age level. 
  3. Technology is supported by teachers when they use it to provide an engaging learning experience where students can collaborate, create, and develop critical thinking skills; also when they use it to support their own professional development and learning. Students support the use of technology when they use it for communicating, collaborating, creating, researching, analyzing, and presenting what they’ve learned. (They also support its use when they remember their usernames and passwords! lol!)  Administrators support technology when they use it to analyze data, collaborate, evaluate, and communicate with parents, teachers, students, and the community.  They also show their support when they budget for adequate upgrades, model its use, and provide for professional development opportunities, training, and resources.  Parents support it’s use by staying up to date on what their children are doing online, communicating with teachers, and modeling appropriate use at homeI would say that the support of technology must start at the top.  If the administration does not set the example and provide for an adequate budget, time, and resources for teachers, students, and parents to best implement the technology, then it will be a struggle to create a positive culture that embraces its full potential and use.

I find it interesting that for Doug’s school district, at least some of the schools had considered BYOD, but changed to school-owned equipment district-wide so that equity would be reached.   As far as the other two individuals (one being an IT specialist at a charter school and another, an administrator at a military school), I personally know that they have had extensive experience in grappling with  technology issues.  All three came to the same conclusion:  that the schools at which they were involved would not support student-owned technology.

In spite of the difficulties involved, it would seem that BYOD may be here to stay,  however painful the startup.   According to Nick Morrison, contributor for Forbes, BYOD is the Next Revolution in School Tech  (2014).  There are still quite a lot of issues that need to be resolved before most school districts become comfortable (financially, legally, and employee-wise) with its implementation.

Due to the expense and risk involved at this time, I believe that for my suggested scenario, I would continue to encourage the use of school-owned tablets and iPads at this time and discontinue anything more cumbersome as the current equipment becomes antiquated.   Perhaps a re-evaluation at a later date will reveal that many of the problems previously associated with BYOD have been resolved.







13 thoughts on “To B(YOD) or Not to B(YOD)

  1. Nicole Cecchetti

    Hi Misty,
    Before my district went 1 to 1, I remember utilizing cell phones in health class for Poll Everywhere. If students did not have a device, they took turns using a classmate’s device or worked together sharing the device. To B(YOD) is better than not to B(YOD) when you do not have other options to choose from. We also had Chrome book carts that we could sign out from the media center for our classes. I used these when students had to complete projects on the computer like creating a PSA flyer to create awareness about a mental health disorder. I realize that there are drawbacks to BYOD, but isn’t that better than nothing?

    1. mistart2013 Post author

      My school already had 1-1 technology in place. My position for this topic was what to do when the current hardware became obsolete. Should we continue with school-provided materials or should we try BYOD? After considering the information I found online, in addition to the direct sources I contacted, I decided that to wait for a while until some of the more intense issues were resolved before I would recommend BYOD.

      I would have to agree with you that if other options were not available, that as an educator, I would want access to the outside world (or some of the more interesting apps, such as the survey you used). If carefully monitored, it might be acceptable to the administration. However, it might prove to be a big responsibility for the individual educator to make sure that access to the devices were not taken advantage of.

    2. Betsy Halsey

      Hi Misty:
      I agree with Doug Johnson, equity is a big factor with BYOD. If we require students to bring a device we put those who do not have one at a disadvangage. They may not be able to work on projects outside of class. That being said, I feel that it is so important that students are using technology in educational settings that it is essential that educators figure out ways to make it work with what they have. Before we had our 1:1 initiative, I would give assignments using technology only on days that students were able to access school technology at the library during our Academic Period.

      1. mistart2013 Post author

        As we are a small school, everyone is familiar with those students who are less fortunate.

        We allow students to bring in their phones for use after school (they are locked up during the day). Even phone ownership can be a problem sometimes, as there are several students who are well-off and who never lack the latest whatever is available in technology. At least with school-owned tech, we can ward off jealousy and shame in that department.

  2. Leslie

    What an awesome title! I really like all of the resources you pulled together for your post! I found quite a few negative articles on BYOD, and very few positives. I noticed there was really no middle ground on the topic of BYOD. What exactly drives some school districts to be successful with BYOD and what causes others to fail miserably with BYOD initiatives? My current district implemented BYOD this year, but without clear guidelines. The articles you have linked and the original blog post you shared really helped to define what needs to happen in order for BYOD to be successful in schools. It appears BYOD is a step behind 1:1, and 1:1 seems to be more successful. I am not participating in BYOD because there are no clear guidelines on monitoring usage, and many students do not use their devices properly when instructed to. There is too much to monitor, and I feel I am truly unable to effectively teach while implementing BYOD in a fourth grade classroom.

    1. mistart2013 Post author

      I’m glad that you found mostly negative articles; I was beginning to think that I was becoming prejudice with the outcome (no BYOD for me).
      Perhaps districts such as Erin’s will help pave the way for the rest of us…

  3. jonathanwylie

    This is a great reflection Misty. I know classrooms where BYOD works, but I have not really seen it on a district wide scale yet. Equity is perhaps the most prevalent concern that I hear and I think that is very valid, but many teachers are not comfortable teaching when the students all have the same device, let alone 5 or 6 or more different devices so there is a need for teacher training in BYOD scenarios, a need for knowledge about what each device is capable of, as well as help on how to plan activities that can be completed on any device.

    I think, on the face of it, BYOD sounds like the answer to a lot of the funding problems that schools have for 1:1 initiatives, but it is certainly still a complex issue, as you iterated.

  4. ppalmer21

    You’ve landed right where I would have if I were you. I’d keep replacing with better tech rather than introduce BYOD in a situation where the infrastructure isn’t there. If a school or district can provide the tech, I do think it is a better choice.

  5. coffeyjog

    Hi Misty,
    I think BYOD can be successful if implemented correctly. It sounds like some school districts do not have the necessary security to make it effective. At our school, students have to sign a permission slip with their parents in order to bring the device to school. Once they bring the device to school they have to have it registered with our User Support Specialist. The User Support Specialist gives the student a code each day so that the student can access the internet. Our internet has filtering set up so that students can not access Facebook or other social media sites from their own device or from a school device, websites with the potential to contain inappropriate information are also blocked. Teachers have found success with BYOD, our teachers use Google Classroom and GAFE which makes any type of device successful, however a student using an iPhone is not as efficient as a student using their own Chromebook. In order for BYOD to be successful the district/county has to plan properly in order for students to efficiently use their device.


    1. mistart2013 Post author

      It certainly sounds as though your district is way ahead of many of the other institutions I researched. Have you had any security scares during your experience with BYOD? I believe that along with equity, that this is the reason for not signing up!
      I think it is great that your USS gives daily codes to students to assure a fresh start. How much work does this place on this individual? Although security is in place, there are always paths for the adventurous student to take. I know that this occurred at our school, and sometimes, the websites seemed benign but weren’t. Are there more or less instances of this happening with your BYOD program? It would be interesting to delve further.

  6. Kelly Johnson

    Like you, I am lucky in my instructional classroom to have a 1:1 ratio of devices for my students. I have a 14 students, 16 school issued chromebooks and a cart of 25 IPads that I can use on a daily basis. This is very convenient and allows me to utilizes IPad Apps, Websites, Video instruction…etc. In the beginning of the year, there were issues with the students remembering and/or being able to login into the chromebooks, so having the IPads allowed me to have the students get to websites without having to remember logins. Now the students are able to get into either one I choose and can utilize most assignments I want them to work on. For me BYOD is not necessary, but for the rest of the population may be an approach the district looks at.


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