One issue that comes up frequently with BYOD initiatives is equity. The equity issue either haunts those who have or are in the process of going BYOD. There are other times, however, that this issue stops the initiative from moving forward. In any case the ones who suffer are our students. In today’s digital age, who are we to tell a student that he or she cannot bring their tools to class to support learning? Don’t get me wrong; equity is a real issue that needs to be addressed when rolling out or sustaining any BYOD initiative. It is our job as leaders and educators to provide the best possible learning environment for out students. With this being said the equity issue should not be seen as an obstacle or challenge that cannot be overcome. Instead of using this as an excuse, or allowing the naysayers to use this as ammunition to derail the initiative, it is our job to find applicable solutions in order to create schools that work for today’s learners. After all, it is not about our (adult) learning, but our students.
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In my community where we made the decision to roll out BYOD many years ago, we did so knowing full well that all of our students did not own a device. Through our planning we also discovered that some students had parents/guardians who would not allow them to bring them to school for fear of theft or breakage. Then there was a small group of students who flat out told us that they had no interest in using their technology in school to support learning. All of these challenges could have been excuses not to move forward, but we decided to find some solutions to benefit the majority while not excluding any student.
Any successful BYOD initiative should focus squarely on how students can use mobile devices to support their learning. If a lesson called for every student to use a device to demonstrate conceptual mastery aligned to a specific learning outcome it was our job to ensure this. Here are some practical tips that we utilized to ensure BYOD equity:
- Know Your Students – Once a decision has been made to implement BYOD in your school/district and proper professional development has been provided find out who are the haves and have nots. One suggestion is to use Google Forms to curate this information. Going forward this will allow you to focus on those students who need access.
- Advance Planning – Notify students the day before that they will need to bring their device to class the following day if the learning activity calls for it.
- Supplement School Technology – If a learning activity calls for every student to have a device then it is imperative that supports are put in place. Students will either forget to bring their device, not have one, or chose not to bring it into school. A successful BYOD initiative has ample technology on hand to make sure all students have access to tools.
- Utilize Cooperative Learning – This archaic pedagogical technique is a necessity in a BYOD environment. There will be some cases where supplemental school technology is not available. Developing lessons where collaborative groups are established and all students have equitable access to a mobile device to accomplish the learning outcome is a sound practice.
- Engage Parents - Prior to going BYOD parent meetings should be planned and held to discuss the initiative as well as outcomes and expectations. These conversations should also clearly outline how the issue of equity will be handled.
So what are your thoughts on the equity issue? Would you add any tips that I might have missed? For more BYOD resources visit this Pinterest board.