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Two Keys to Running a Successful BYOD Program for Your School

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The bring your own device (BYOD) movement started in the corporate world as employers allowed their employees to bring their Smartphones and PDAs into the workplace and connect to secure wireless networks.
The BYOD trend, though, is now entering school hallways. Some have even hailed the coming BYOD trend as the next great revolution in school technology because of the learning possibilities and the ubiquity of Smartphones among high schoolers.
Studies from the Center for Digital Education have shown promising signs that mobile apps can be put towards instruction, and some schools have even taken to delivering whole middle school textbooks as e-books.
Benefits of BYOD Programs 
One advantage to implementing a BYOD program in schools is that such programs make an ally of a potential enemy in allowing students to use the devices that staff and faculty once banned or confiscated.
Another advantage is that school districts that have had their budgets squeezed can now use BYOD programs to get educational apps and textbooks into students’ hands at no (or very little) extra expense to the school district.
Two Keys to Making BYOD Work 
There are two overarching keys to making any school-wide BYOD program work for your school – running a pilot study and, secondly, tracking learning metrics and making changes accordingly.
A study from Project Tomorrow showed that over 80 percent of parents thought that harnessing modern technology towards their child’s school success was important. Moreover, a slightly larger percentage of parents said that they approved of mobile devices and apps being used in the classroom for learning purposes.
Pilot Study 
Having a one-year pilot study before implementing a school-wide BYOD policy is a wise decision for administrators to make for a few reasons.
A pilot period allows you to find out which students have Smartphones and which students might need a nudge or financial assistance in getting onboard with a future BYOD policy.
In addition, a full academic year dedicated to a pilot study allows school, or whole districts, the opportunity to troubleshoot potential problems with the school’s wireless network or compatibility issues for certain devices and mobile learning apps.
Incorporating Tech in Lessons 
Ensuring that students understand how to use their Smartphones and navigate learning apps is also an essential part of a BYOD pilot study. During the pilot study teachers should help students get more acclimated to their devices and learning apps by choosing lessons that make fuller use of technology in the classroom.
Teachers themselves should receive training in how to put devices towards BYOD programs. It’s also important for teachers to inform parents how they plan on incorporating technology into daily lessons.
Encourage Questions 
During the pilot period, posting a downloadable PDF outlining the coming BYOD program would help to put administrators, teachers, parents and students on the same page. Urging teachers, parents and students to ask questions about the coming BYOD program should be encouraged.
Tracking Learning Metrics 
The next key to getting a BYOD program off the ground is tracking learning metrics. This includes tracking the amount of kids on the network during a given school day, the number of times learning sites and apps are being used, and how well the BYOD program is affecting learning outcomes.
Someone with experience in IT or educational psychology can help administrators interpret these numbers, and teachers as well as administrators should note any correlation between the amount of devices in the classroom and increases in learning outcomes among students.
Prior to launching a BYOD program, finally, adjustments should be made to networks, firewalls or any barriers to tech access in the classroom.
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