BYOT/BYOD - Dealing with the Fallout (Updated)

Dealing with the fall out or rising from the ashes like a phoenix, schools are coming to terms, one way or another, with bring your own technology (BYOT) or bring your own devices (BYOD).

Bring your own device or technology (BYOD/BYOT)--NOT Bring Your Own Taser--intrigues many, frightens others. Students and teachers (83% of adults have mobile phones) already bypass district prohibitions. "Using your own device at school is in violation of the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA)!" some might say. Usually, such usage allows students and teachers to attempt using social media/networking tools for instructional use. ANYTHING that allows students and educators to congregate, create and share content online may be banned in today's schools. That approach will have to change to match more progressive schools that recognize it's about how you model the use of these tools in schools...and CIPA may no longer serve as a legal scare tactic, it's chilling effect warmed by the FCC in August: 

According to the ruling, “Although it is possible that certain individual Facebook or MySpace pages could potentially contain material harmful to minors, we do not find that these websites are per se ‘harmful to minors’ or fall into one of the categories that schools and libraries must block.”
By clarifying that schools can allow access to social media websites without violating the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and risk losing coveted e-Rate dollars for telecommunications, the FCC opened access to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and other top social media sites for instructional use.
Source: Nora Carr, FCC opens access to social media sites for e-Rate users in eSchoolNews 9/26/2011
The road ahead is clear and open...not only will devices that offer increased access to social media be allowed in schools, it's time to consider bringing them into schools to offset deep cuts to education technology funding, especially when State Board of Education (at least, in Texas) are worried that money from the Instructional Materials Allocation will be diverted from all important PRINT textbooks and spent foolishly on technology.

Hmm...all human beings need to question if what they once believed is still relevant and on target. Isn't it time textbook advocates--not on the payroll of textbook companies, of course--questioned their own motivation for NOT issuing ebooks and ereaders to students? Lighten the load of those textbook-laden backpacks?

At a time when shrinking school budgets mean that schools will never achieve one to one, the resourceful approach involves asking kids to bring their home devices into schools. As a parent of two children who have their own inexpensive netbooks--which they use for everything from typing up their homework, creating collages and presentations, using tools like LibreOffice and GoogleDocs to watching virtual TV channels like Hulu,, and movies--I know that these devices grant them MORE access to technology than what they have at school.

Consider Tim Clark's account of BYOD in schools:
We also have some pretty big extremes in how many students own devices, and I've also heard the screen time concern. However, the majority of the parents are happy that their children are learning how to use their devices in school. :-) We have used devices at all grade levels. One of the devices that many primary students own is the Nintendo DS. Those devices can't access the Internet (unless they are DSIs). 
But the DS has this cool pictochat feature that enables the students to chat and draw with others DSs in the room. It is a great way to write stories together, solve math problems, study spelling, etc., and it helps the teacher talk about digital citizenship and netiquette in a safe way. When students bring in their different devices, the teacher can jigsaw activities so that a student with an iTouch or iPad can conduct research on the Internet and email it to others. 
The student with a laptop or desktop can help create the project or multimedia presentation. This enables the student without personal tech to have a pretty big role with the school's technology. Another great point to tell your administrators is that when students bring their own devices, it frees up the school's resources for the students who don't have their own and often have the greatest needs. All of these devices help the elementary teacher to facilitate more learning centers in the classroom. These were just some brief ideas. I hope they helped!
Tech directors often ask questions like these (culled from a year of discussion about BYOT on Texas and Oklahoma email lists):
  1. What are districts doing on the technical wireless network side of things to ensure the students have access to the wireless network through a student access (separate VLAN, etc.) and still preventing any possible viruses from corrupting other devices throughout the District?
    (Note: Don't you love the implication that BYODs include corrupting viruses?)
  2. Are viruses and malware still an issue if the devices are mobile devices such as iPads, Android tablets, iPods?
  3. What percentage of devices being brought to school require active virus/malware protection? How do you gauge that?
  4. If you are involved in a BYOT program, did you install an additional firewall?
  5. What did you increase your internet bandwidth and speed for devices on the "guest network?"
  6. Are you allowing printing from student and teacher devices?
  7. If you are a Windows shop are you authenticating with AD or open? 
  8. What standard apps will work on ALL devices, such as iPads and Android devices (e.g. Stoneware, share school apps on a variety of devices with VBridges through Virtual Desktop Integration)?
  9. Is cloud computing (e.g. GoogleApps for Education, MS LIVE@EDU) and shared storage a solution that works across all devices and does your district support that?
  10. What do I need to do--as a tech director--to ensure my school/district is ready for the influx of BYOD?
  11. How do you handle theft/damage of student devices while being used for learning purposes in schools?
  12. What restrictions are CIPA compliant?
  13. What solutions are available to help you manage BYOD to be CIPA-compliant (e.g. iBoss, CISCO ISE, )?
  14. How do you introduce this idea to parents and students? Have people bring computers in to get up to speed (removing viruses, peer to peer software, etc.).
  15. Are you allowing teachers to participate and bring their own laptop to use as their primary device?
  16. If yes to the above question, do you purchase and allow them install district software that they may need in order to be successful?
  17. If yes to the above question, what is your process when one of those teachers leaves the district?  How do you verify that the software was removed?  Or do you have them sign an agreement that will put that responsibility on the them?
  18. Do you have your students/parents sign an agreement to participate in the BYOT initiative?
  19. If yes to the above question, how do your teachers differentiate between a student using a personal device that has signed an agreement, vs. one that hasn't signed an agreement?
  20. What are you doing about the cell phone versus Wifi connection? 
  21. What will it mean for statewide comparability when some students take a test on a 21-inch widescreen monitor, with full-size keyboard and mouse, while other students in the state take “the same” test on something more resembling a smart phone? (Source for Q21 - Bryan Bleil, Pearson)
Update 09/28/2011: Listen to this interview Hiram Cuevas on BYOD. He answers many of the questions above.

While the questions from school technology directors may be centered around questions like these, I suggest there is a greater fallout, or danger, that leaves our children unprepared for the global collaboration they need to succeed in today's global economy.

Source: McKinney ISD,
"From a vision standpoint, it's coming to the realization that the instructional benefits far outweigh any concerns we may have had," says Bailey Mitchell, the district's chief technology and information officer. (Source: Wylie Wong, Open Invitation in EDTECH K-12)
What a vision! Since learning, communication, collaboration, and social media are as fluid as the people who use them, the danger is the consequences of our "uptight" approach to BYOD sabotaging the whole effort. The old vision was buy everything for schools. . .now we know, that can't be the way. We just need to get there, get there any way we can. Is BYOD the answer?

Some places are already doing BYOT/BYOD. Paul R. Wood (Bishop-Dunne, Texas) was interviewed by Tim Holt (El Paso ISD) about Wood's Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) to school program. Watch the YouTube video below:

Research, as cited in various publications, reveals that there are benefits to students bringing their own devices. 
“In Maine, findings indicate that teacher knowledge and practices and use of technology increased,” Hezel said. Math and reading scores increased, and all involved learned lessons about technology, learning, and assessment. (Source: ESchoolnews)
But are test scores really relevant?

The question isn't when or IF students will bring devices, but WHAT school districts will do to empower these students in using these powerful technologies? From the questions shown previously, you can see that the focus is on containing, controlling, restricting, and limiting these devices, almost as if they were a flow of unwanted, dangerously toxic fluid into schools. CIPA wasn't ever an obstacle...
Remember that under CIPA, you are only required to filter/block your network. So if a student is using a cell phone tower to access the Internet, they do not fall under the requirement and you do not have to monitor their activities, nor can you be held responsible for those activities. Source: Email (11/18/2010) from Lori Gracey, TCEA Executive Director
...and now certainly isn't with the FCC clarification.

Still, laying the foundation is critical; some districts have already begun or are doing so, as evidenced by the documents they are preparing and sharing:

For example, some details on getting ready for the BYOD includes these tips from Converge magazine article, Student Devices Save Districts Money, which you'll want to read for more details on these suggestions.
  1. Lay a wireless infrastructure foundation that allows you to allocate public and "district-only" usage.
  2. Pilot a bring your own technology program.
  3. Create community-based purchase program--a la employee purchase but that includes parents and students--your own device.
  4. Learn how to use cloud computing/storage (like GoogleApps for Education, MS Live@EDU's Skydrive, and course management systems like Moodle,, and others to build an online learning environment.
And, though not mentioned in the article, some other tips include:
  • Communicating what BYOD goals to school community
  • Not being afraid to provide support (e.g. antivirus software, free open source software, web-based tools) ahead of the implementation
  • Involve teachers in changing what it is they are doing to take advantage of the technology

Command and control doesn't work, does it? Pro-active support does, though.

Of course, what happens when the technology envy sets in, as illustrated in this commercial from Best Buy?

CASE STUDY #1 - Daughter, High School Senior
My daughter spent most of her time growing up cranking out homework, doing research using a Dell desktop computer that is now tottering along, not much use except for cloud computing. Although it runs Windows XP Home, the power of this machine lies on its UbuntuLinux side, where it turns into a scanning powerhouse when connected to an inexpensive <$60 HP scanner (that we never could get the right drivers for in Windows and Mac) and easy connections to a printer.

For much of her school career, my daughter hand-crafted her compositions. "Rosalie," I'd encourage, "why don't you type as you compose?" School had pre-disposed her to handwriting everything. Only after she received an Asus netbook--dual boot with Windows 7 Starter Edition and UbuntuLinux added after Win7SE proved to be such a headache--did I see a marked difference in her writing habits. Now, her netbook--the best investment ever made--is her constant companion, easily fitting in her purse, and empowering her to do her writing.

I can only imagine what would have been possible if she BYOD had been in effect when she was developing these habits.

True BYOD will never be a solution for schools that continue to focus on standardization of hardware and applications.  .  .Let’s face it, human beings tend to take better care of something they own versus something they rent. It is time to give our students ownership over their learning through the use of their own devices. (Source: Scott Meech, The Future of Ed-Tech is Bring Your Own Device)

One of my favorite experiences about BYODs involving a teacher includes my encounter with an unsuspecting 2nd grade teacher in a summer Abydos (a.k.a. New Jersey Writing Center) workshop. She didn't know I was from the Technology Department, as she happily setup her Clear mobile wi-fi device, whipped out her own netbook computer, and Android HTC Incredible phone.

When I asked her about the plethora of personal devices, and whether they were allowed to be used inside the school district--effectively bypassing the technology restrictions (e.g. locked down Active Directory profiles, prohibitions to use mobile devices for social media/networking, CIPA-filtered Internet) the District had put in place--she smiled and said, "I refuse to let the District keep me from accessing the resources I need to teach my second graders effectively."

My second favorite experience involved a day-long workshop I facilitated for a Texas school district in North Texas. The content filters were set to be very restrictive, and even though I'd provided a list of my preferred web sites, those were blocked. Fortunately, my co-facilitator had her own WiFi PC Card from Sprint, and we were able to bypass content filters. Teachers in the room were amazed, but all agreed that the cost of those contracts was out of range of their budgets. Thank goodness for programs from Clear that now allow those teachers to get connectivity for free.

What stories do YOU have about BYOD, whether as a teacher or student?

Image Reference
BYOD - YouTube Video:
Backpacks and kids -

Get Blog Updates via Email!
Enter your email address:
Delivered by FeedBurner

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Reba said…
I am a 5th grader teacher and love BYOT. My students use their own technology/devices daily. It is wonderful to say use your resources to figure that out and then share with us. For example, I ask a student in my class if they had ever heard of a man named Stephen Hawkings. He did not have a clue who I was talking about so I told him I thought he would really like his books and maybe he should look him up. Not two minutes later the student had his ipod out and was reading about Stephen Hawkings as I was pulling out a personal copy of one of his books to put in our classroom library. It took him about two more minutes to figure out one of the new books in the room was from this author. Next thing I know he has the book on his desk and several other students are looking at it with him and reading information from the itouch. The next comment I hear as I try to bring the class back together to start our SS lesson was "I love this stuff!", "Me too", "I get the book next." I am loving ipod touches, nooks and ipads - all are quick and easy to connect and each student sets up the device to their own preferences. Students can find information and use it quickly. As my students teach me about all the things they can do on their color nook I am really looking at them in a new light. Color nooks are powerful devices for research and reading, at an affordable price. No matter what it should always be about the learning!
dphillips51 said…
We are moving in the direction of BYOD at Prairiland ISD. There are a few obstacles still to overcome, one of which is to have a policy with which teachers can comfortably allow students to use their own devices while other teachers are still taking up cell phones.
I talked with Paul last Saturday about Bishop-Dunne's policy and was encouraged to push ahead with ours. It's the logical next step in preparing our students for a real world in which they will have to use their own devices productively.
Now we just have to teach them how to do work with personal technology tools instead of only using them for texting and entertainment.
Eric said…
Our high school piloted BYOT last year and we are working on expanding the program this year. I also co-host a podcast where we dedicated an hour-long episode to BYOT / BYOD to discuss the benefits, challenges, uses, and resources. You can get the episode here:

Popular posts from this blog

Rough and Ready - #iPad Created Narrated Slideshow

Old Made New: Back to Bunsen Labs Linux (Updated)

The Inside Scoop: EdTech 2020 Virtual Conference #edtech #zoom