“Bring Your Own Device” Trend Lets Students Learn With Technology

Enabling kids to learn with their own mobile technology.

By on November 6, 2013

Until recently, students in most local school districts across the country who were caught using their mobile phones during class could get detention and lose their devices. But school districts are starting to encourage students to use smartphones and tablets as part of their lessons, extending the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) trend from the college level to K-12.

According to a survey from Bradford Networks, 44 percent of K-12 districts across the United States and the United Kingdom now permit students to use their own mobile devices on the schools’ networks. The students are using mobile devices for a variety of activities, including conducting polls during civics lessons, doing research for assignments on the school library site or the Internet, and preparing for standardized exams.

The BYOD in the classroom trend is expected to expand as a growing number of K-12 administrators and faculty members learn about the value of integrating smartphones and tablets into the learning environment to better engage students. 

The Bradford survey also found that security is a top concern for school administrators, concluding that the success of BYOD in the classroom depends on whether teachers can ensure that the devices are being used constructively and not disrupting the learning environment. Districts that permit the use of mobile devices in the classroom need to ensure that the school system complies with the Child Internet Protection Act (CIPA), which protects students from harmful online content. Private network solutions are helping schools become CIPA-compliant by locking down school networks to keep students from accessing prohibited sites; schools then permit students to connect only to that protected network whether using their own devices or those provided by the school. Students using locked-down school-provided devices are protected from out-of-network content even when they’re off campus – for example, while riding the school bus or studying at home.

Tablets and other mobile devices overtook the number of PCs in the classroom in 2011, according to a Forrester study, but two years ago most of those devices were used only by faculty. Allowing students to take their mobile devices out of their lockers and into the classroom will help engage students and teach them how to use their devices for more than just social interaction.