The Hidden Traps of BYOD in Education
BYOD, or “bring your own device,” is a topic of frequent discussion in the business realm; but BYOD programs are also gaining momentum in K-12 education. As the phrase implies, in a typical BYOD arrangement, students are permitted to bring electronic devices they already own to school for classroom use. However, the question then arises - what about the student who doesn’t have a personal electronic device? Or the child whose family owns a laptop, but it’s so outdated that it cannot keep pace with those of his or her peers?
Growing up, we can all recall a certain item that you had to have because everyone else, seemingly, did. In fourth grade, at my elementary school, it was an Adidas jacket. You might also remember that the necessary item would quickly change and be forgotten by the following school year.
But these days, what students need socially isn’t a short-term fad or quickly outgrown article of clothing, as was the case with my teal and white coat. Instead, it’s technology access – an enduring, ever-more vital component for social inclusion. Access to the Internet won’t be tossed in the corner of a closet when the following school year begins, said to no longer be “cool.” Instead, year-by-year, technology will only become more important in education, especially as instructional content increasingly becomes digitized. Those who don’t have full access will find themselves left further behind.
BYOD programs in schools highlight that addressing the digital divide is imperative for our entire society. To succeed in our digital world, students need learning that is accessible via digital tools. BYOD programs allow such learning, but only for those who have the right device. In a nation that proclaims equality for all as its key founding principle, we can afford no less than equal digital access for all.
What do you think - Are well-intentioned BYOD initiatives in education further widening the disparity between the have’s and have not’s in terms of essential digital resources?