Is it time to encourage all students to bring their own?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) strategies are becoming increasingly prevalent in higher education; Jon Knight answers some straight questions on the benefits and challenges.

What exactly is BYOD?

Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, is a strategic approach to teaching that not only allows students to use their own phones, tablets and laptops during lessons, but actively encourages it.  It’s seen as a more dynamic way to study. One that harnesses the benefits that these technologies can deliver to make learning more accessible, effective and frankly, more fun.

As higher education evolves to better prepare young adults for the demands of the 21st century workplace, the move towards eLearning becomes more important. The majority of universities are now well equipped to support wireless devices. So, when they give students the freedom to ‘bring their own’ it results in immediate technology integration in the classroom. And it’s an approach that supports emerging trends in education such as ‘flipped’ and ‘active learning’.

A natural move for digital natives, three quarters of students say digital devices help them learn more effectively and a staggering 95% prefer to use their own device. (source : Top Hat)

What benefits does BYOD bring?

 For the university, there are clear benefits. They don’t have to spend money on buying hardware and what’s more student devices are likely to be bang up to date.   Studies also show that when using their own device, people feel more engaged and take more responsibility for its safekeeping.

Higher education also prepares students for the working environment. It is more and more common for companies to allow employees to use their own devices. Personal equipment can be tailored to user needs which improves engagement. So, it’s fair to say that if correctly implemented, BYOD can positively affect educational outcomes.

From a student viewpoint, research shows they love the familiarity, convenience and flexibility of BYOD.  The strategy makes researching and studying easier, as students can access materials whenever needed. It supports them in experimenting and exploring online information and it significantly eases collaboration, an approach which is shown to shorten the learning curve.  BYOD empowers students to be more autonomous and take responsibility for their own learning.

And what about the challenges?

Data security and child safeguarding need to be considered.  Students need to be protected from inappropriate sites. IT Managers also have a responsibility to ensure that by opening up their network, they don’t expose themselves to the risk of malware or viruses.

BYOD may not be compatible with legacy systems. Universities are unlikely to have invested in operating systems that are  hardware agnostic so their software  may not work on all devices.  To fully support a BYOD strategy, you need a hardware and OS agnostic approach.

There’s also the issue of network capacity.  Traditionally education has bought cheaper infrastructures than the commercial world.  There may be a need for investment to ensure sufficient capacity for multiple devices to connect 24/7.

There are other practical considerations for universities. Keeping devices charged, making sure they’re kept securely when not in use and catering for students who’ve not got their own to name just a few.

So, there are clear benefits to introducing a BYOD approach and although implementing a strategy isn’t all plain sailing that shouldn’t put you off.  We’ve helped many universities to implement a BYOD approach and can support you. You can create and implement a strategy which is underpinned by a robust technology infrastructure.

For more information contact the team at Ascentae on 0800 368 8074 and if you haven’t already, be sure to check out our website: www.ascentae.com