7 Questions (and Tips!) for Developing a #BYOT Campus Strategy

7 Questions (and Tips!) for Developing a BYOT Campus Strategy
by Miguel Guhlin
Shared under Creative Commons Copyright Attribution-ShareAlike-NonCommercial

“Have you stopped and taken a breath about what BYOT means for YOU, your teachers, students, and parents?” That’s a question that is screaming its way into the rarified atmosphere of public schools, like a cataclysmic meteor that some may avoid thinking about until it smashes their reality. If that seems unnecessarily confrontational, it's an apt analogy for students' changing expectations for what school should be like.  With that reality-smashing scenario in mind, many schools are coming to terms, one way or another, with bring your own technology (BYOT).

Bring your own technology (BYOT) intrigues many, frightens others.  As a result of that fear and concern, it’s critical that campus leadership teams craft a strategy to implement BYOT.

This article offers two approaches you can use as part of a “strategy session” for campus leaders:  

1) BYOT Scenario - In this "problem-based learning" scenario, explore BYOT issues from your particular role and try to develop a solution. This is best used for open discussion in a face to face meeting session.

2) 7 Question Checklist - Use this checklist to self-reflect as individuals or as a group as to whether you have addressed some key ideas. Links are provided to help you access appropriate resources.

Before exploring these two approaches, consider the inevitability of BYOT in schools.

“BYOT- it happens no matter what, it's only called BYOT," shares Josh Davis, "when your curriculum takes advantage of it."

Some statistics to keep in mind:

  1. Young adults tend to have higher-than-average levels of smartphone ownership regardless of income or educational attainment. (Source: http://bit.ly/VgOU9U)
  2. More Hispanic (49 percent) and African-American (42 percent) middle school students are using their smartphones for homework than Caucasian students (36 percent). (Source: http://goo.gl/eGUQ2)
  3. Smartphone use for homework also crosses income levels, with 29 percent of the students from the lowest-income households reporting smartphone usage to do their homework assignments.(Source: http://goo.gl/eGUQ2)
  4. More than one in three middle school students  are using mobile devices to complete homework, and more of those who use these devices for learning in the classroom express a strong interest in science, technology and math than those who do not, according to a new national survey.  (Source: http://goo.gl/eGUQ2)
  5. Nationwide,  55% of middle and high school students, as well as 25% of elementary students, own a mobile device (e.g. cell phone).
  6. Teens in the lowest income category are most likely to use their phones, instead of computers to go online.


Effective leadership without consistent, clear communication,” opined one District Technology Director, “does not exist.”  The scenario below--intended to tease out differing perspectives on BYOT--will help you reflect on the issues that arise when implementing BYOT:

In a few weeks, students like John and Maria at a 5A high school will be bringing their own technology to school. While some teachers like Jennifer are excited about the possibilities--mainly, those that have taken the time to learn how to use the Read/Write Web to collaborate, create, connect in alignment with academic goals--others like Rick are afraid things will not work as well. He’s comfortable with students working on paper and pencil/pen, not using their own devices and what they might do on them when he isn’t looking.

James, the campus principal  recognizes the need for a campus strategy towards BYOT.  He’s worried that teachers will fail to take advantage of BYOT in their lessons and BYOT use will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Failure,” he points out with a smile, “just isn’t an option in our small community.”  This is a fact the District Technology Department and District Leadership are well aware of as well. The Classroom Learning Activity Rubric is one instrument that’s been offered to help teachers employ strategies that take advantage of technology in the classroom.

Parents like Ms. Jones (involved in the PTA) are wondering, How will the school communicate with me about this and will there be a consistent message from campus leaders? Will that message match what teachers are saying and doing in the classroom when students misbehave? So much is at stake, jobs are the on the line, high stakes accountability is in play. At a time when technology is everywhere, teaching, learning, and leading with technology has real consequences.

As you reflect on this scenario, ask yourself some questions, such as the ones below:

  1. What hunches (intuitive guesses) do you have about this scenario?
  2. What do we know for certain about the problem?
  3. What questions can we ask that will get us the information we need to help the protagonist solve the problem?
  4. Who are the stakeholders in this scenario and what solutions do we need to develop for their particular situation?

Pick a stakeholder role--teacher, campus leader, technology department, student, parent--that you have some affinity with, then try to develop a solution. Consider using a KWHL chart like the one below to get you started.

Here's an example to get you started; it's not intended to be all-inclusive of the conversations embedded in the role of Campus Leader.

Stakeholder Role: Campus Leader

What do I Know?What I Want to Know?How will I find Information?What have I learned?

  1. BYOT is a certainty
  2. Not all teachers have the training to take advantage of BYOT
  3. Parents expect consistent messages about this initiative from all staff
  4. I’m not sure why we’re doing this myself.
  5. This is a high-profile project that can’t fail.
  6. Digital citizenship is key to successful behavior for students.
What is expected of me as a campus leader?

How can I better support classroom teachers and encourage them to use BYOT?

How can BYOT enhance instruction rather than become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

How do I hold teachers accountable for what they are doing or not doing?
The District’s BYOT Support site has resources online.

Check the webinar schedule on the BYOT Support Site for more learning opportunities.

7 Questions and Tips for Developing a BYOT Campus Strategy

“Mobile learning is all about changing instruction. Because if the instruction doesn’t change, allowing the kids to bring their own device will do nothing,” shared Lenny Schad, Katy ISD Chief Technology Officer.

Another approach, once you’ve explored BYOT from various stakeholder roles, is to review the checklist on the next page and ask, How am I going to get there from here? Make this as specific as you can for YOUR role on campus.

ItemQuestion to PonderTaking Action
Have you defined and aligned the goals for the BYOT program to the Campus Improvement Plan and District Mission?
Tip: Connect BYOT use to differentiated instruction, the District’s mission, and specific instructional strategies in your CIP.
Have you outlined expectations for teachers, students about using Edmodo.com and GoogleApps to create online, virtual classrooms?
Tip: Encourage teachers to spend some classroom time answering questions from students on how they will use technologies in class.
Have you decided what to do when students and/or staff bring too many devices that slow down the network (1 BYOT device per person is recommended)?
Tip: Let students know they can only connect 1 wireless device to the network.
How will teachers be supported on campus--not just District Professional Development--to transform classroom learning activities from being paper-focused to electronic to eliminate the need for printing (for example, students can’t print from BYOT devices)?Tip: Use the Classroom Learning Activity Rubric.
How will you share BYOT program goals, define expectations, show students what they can do with the device, help students connect to the wireless network, and address concerns from stakeholders?Tip: Encourage teachers to attend online webinars they can participate in from their classroom or home; have frequent parent communications; share with staff what is appropriate to say about BYOT. Instead of, “It’s not working,” encourage them to say, “We’re all working together to learn how to best take advantage of BYOT in the classroom.”
How will campus leaders and teachers respond to questions of equity (e.g. I can’t afford to buy my child a device)?Tip: Share that the campus has devices available for students who can’t or don’t want to bring their own to school. The more BYOT is practiced, the more school devices are available for those with the greatest need.
How should I answer questions from staff/students/parents about which devices to use?Tip: Refer to the online BYOT Mobile Device Chart.

As you have seen, the focus of these crucial conversations involves flushing out tough questions in advance, clearly laying out answers to anticipated questions so that all stakeholders know what's up, and constantly asking, What questions am I not asking that will enhance instruction now that we have these devices available?

Walker, Michael. (3/12/12). 6 Steps for Increasing Student Access with BYOD

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


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