6 Reasons EdLeaders Should Let Kids Bring Devices to School

Bans on student use of mobile devices exist for some good reasons—kids use them inappropriately at school and there are safety and security concerns.  So why bother considering a change?  There are six reasons to consider BYOD.

  1. Digital natives learn and live with technology.  Most have and bring devices to school.  Why not leverage the power?
  2. Most schools have an awkward mix of print and technology-based learning resources—often not quite enough of either.  Making the shift to digital instructional materials can save money, extend access, and improve engagement.
  3. Honesty. We force our kids to sneak their device into school.  A BYOD environment promotes healthy and appropriate technology use.
  4. A chance to close the digital divide.  The historic cost of access devices and connectivity caused a big gap in the opportunity to learn.  But the price of some tablets is less than a couple textbooks.  By making the shift to digital, most schools can purchase enough access devices for low income students.  Many schools will be able to flip from three or four students per computer to one or two devices per student over time.
  5. Take advantage of online assessment.  Most states will shift most of their testing online by the 2014-15 school year.   A coordinated effort to boost access to a defined set of testing conditions (screen size, timing, supervision) will improve computer access in many schools. Use the same timeline to shift to digital learning and BYOD.
  6. Expanded access yields expanded digital options.  When every student as full digital access, it provides the platform for improved access to effective materials, online courses, and effective teachers.
More BYOD resources:

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Stanley Pelech

I can only imagine the number of students who have ended up being suspended from school because they violated the schools electronic device policy. In my past life as a building principal many incidents developed between students and administrators, security guards and teachers because of a phone being used in the hall. If policy makers would look to the potential connections to students these offer rather than focus on the possible negative outcomes we would be able to focus on more important issues. What professional doesn't have their blackberry with them every moment of the work day perhaps we should make it illegal for teachers and administrators to have them in schools as well, I could only imagine the uproar.


Tom Vander Ark

Yes, we need to let kids bring devices to school, but it will require a new culture of appropriate use--not simple or quick to create

Roland Gesthuizen

Yes, we should have focussed on banning the bad behaviour, not the technology.


Agreed Tom, on all 6 accounts. In addition, if one of our goals is to prepare our students for the world of work, we need to teach our students the skills that go along with using the devices constructively and appropriately. Schools should also be looking at extending the use of the devices beyond their walls by allowing 24/7 access to the students work. This way when students arrive at school they can seamlessly transition into school mode.

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