Allowing employees and students to use their own technology in the ‘workplace’ is a growing trend in the business world and in education. In schools, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs mean that students can use their own tablets, laptops, e-Readers, and other devices in school for educational purposes. Currently, 25 Shelby County Schools have established BYOD programs.
BYOD programs in Shelby County Schools came as a result of strong student and parent feedback. In 2011, 75% of high school students and 70% of middle school students who completed the annual SpeakUp survey said that bringing their own devices to school would help them learn more effectively. They believed that having a portable device with them throughout the day would enable them to take notes, check their grades online, conduct online research, and keep track of due dates and events more easily. Parent responses also showed strong support for BYOD. 61% said they believed that being able to use their own devices would keep students more engaged in classroom activities. And 67% of these parents said that if they knew their child could bring a device to school they would be likely to purchase one for them.
Besides allowing parents and students to get more out of their investment in personal technology, BYOD enables the classroom environment to become more like the world outside. When the teacher poses a question or gives students information, students can respond using a variety of devices and apps instead of every child using the exact same device and software. This gives students more choice and challenge to find the best method or device for different purposes.
Each BYOD school conducted a year-long pilot. This time allowed teachers and students to adjust to the changes and the school administration to examine its impact on discipline. At the end of the year, the schools were able to make informed adjustments to their BYOD rules. The pilot period also allowed teachers to come up with strategies for handing digital equity. Teachers address this in various ways such as having students work in small groups, taking their class to the lab, or bringing a cart of laptops or iPads into the classroom. On average the 25 BYOD schools in the district report that about 40% of their students now bring their devices to school daily for use in class.