BYOD in K-12 Education Comes With Challenges

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 2/1/2016

It was estimated that 20% of K-12 classrooms would have integrated bring-you-own-device (BYOD) programs by the end of 2015, with the promise of being able to deliver on digital curriculum without the capital expense of 1:1 programs. Unfortunately, BYOD has come with more challenges to the K-12 classroom than anticipated.

While it may seem rational to take advantage of devices that students already own, whether at school, at home or both, K-12 BYOD programs have met many challenges:

  • A growing disparity that further disadvantages low-income families
  • The wide range of devices and platforms being used has created an instructional burden in attempting to find activities that work on all devices, causing teachers to revert to what is available, not necessarily what is best
  • How to protect the network from malware and other intrusions introduced by BYOD devices and their likely use of non-sanction applications (which also impact student productivity). Surveys indicate 27% of schools current allow open network access to anyone, putting data at risk.
  • Struggles to comply with regulations such as the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
  • Strained IT resources in attempting to provide learning resources & support across a variety of devices
  • The rise in the number of devices being carried to and from school endangers student safety, making them a prime target for thieves
  • Lost or stolen student devices have a major impact on learning, with no school-district management capability to track or recover these devices
  • The influx of BYOD devices can overload school wireless networks, so managing bandwidth is a real concern

In the National Education Technology Plan for 2016, the Department of Education cautions against BYOD programs for the above reasons, noting in particular the lack of appropriate safeguards in place on student-owned devices that can ensure student privacy and security. While many schools have found ways to reduce the risks of BYOD devices, there is no question that it is much more difficult to control security when the device is owned by the student.

While BYOD is obviously appealing, the main issues in management, equality of learning and security are driving many districts to reconsider and adopt a 1:1 program instead. With solutions such as Absolute DDS and persistence technology, you can have the confidence to enable to a digital learning environment while protecting students and securing technology. With the addition of our free Absolute Safe Schools program, you can help promote a safe school environment around device safety - including BYOD devices, if they remain a part of your strategy.

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