Tablets, smartphones, laptops and iPads. Never before in the history of education have instructors had such powerful tools at their disposal.
With the swipe of a screen, teachers can introduce their students to a world of information and opportunities. Each device is more powerful, technologically speaking, than the command center that sent Neil Armstrong to the moon. Entire libraries, newspaper archives and documentary videos can be accessed in seconds.
Using devices to teach has the potential to change everything–if only every student had a device in his or her hands.
Unfortunately, arming every student with a device is expensive, complicated and wrought with unforeseen challenges. While many institutions would like to give every student a laptop, doing so is simply not feasible. This is why a lot of K-12 schools and districts are adopting a BYOD policy.
BYOD, by the way, stands for “Bring Your Own Device.”
Students are asked to bring their iPads, iPhones, smartphones, tablets and laptops to class. Teachers adapt their curriculum to include “added-value” links to information that supplements the lessons being taught in class. Students with devices can click links to learn more about the topics being discussed in class.
The advantages of BYOD programs are clear. School districts don’t have to invest valuable capital in technology for every student. Teachers have many more tools at their disposal. And students have the ability to add context and perspective–two very valuable teaching tools–to lessons that otherwise might not be of interest to them.
Of course, bringing your own device to school comes with a certain amount of risk.
Devices can be lost, stolen, damaged or misused–all of which reduce their effectiveness as teaching tools. They can also become more of a distraction than a dream tool, which is why it is important to follow a few important BYOD tips designed to help students maximize the power of devices in the classroom:
- Read, understand and follow the school’s “Acceptable Use Policy.” Policies are put in place for a reason. In the case of BYOD programs, policies are designed to protect students, teachers, the district. Read the policies, understand them and follow them. Not doing so could result in a lot of headaches and even lost devices.
- Make sure your device is charged. Nothing ruins a lesson like having to interrupt your teacher to ask for a charger.
- Keep your device close. It’s amazing how quickly a device can be stolen. Your classmates are probably very trustworthy, but why risk it? Keep your device with you at all times.
- Only use your device in class and for classwork. Using your device for purposes that don’t relate to coursework is a good way to have it taken away from you.
- Know how to use your device. If something goes wrong with your device during the school day, it’s likely that there won’t be anyone available to help you fix the problem. Know how it works and know how to try to fix problems that might come up.