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EDUCATION / NOV ‘2018

Does the Bring Your Own Device initiative in schools impact your child’s learning?

With the implementation of the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) initiative in many Australian schools, questions have been raised over the impact of technology in the classroom.

Words Matilda Jesiolowski

In recent years, an increasing number of Australian schools have begun to implement “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) schemes.

However, with this new trend an issue arises of whether this introduction of more technology will impact student learning. It raises the question as to whether it could be distracting students more than helping them.

What is BYOD?

This concept originated in the business world, with companies allowing employees to use their personal smartphones, laptops, tablets and other technological devices in the workplace. The initiative has since gained popularity in the education sector with a number of schools encouraging students to bring their own personal devices to use in the classroom.

What are the issues?

With this new trend have come many issues associated with it – such as financial concerns; technological infrastructure; teacher training; privacy; and network security. The issue of equity is seen as a major issue in any discussion of BYOD, as not all students can afford their own iPad.

Not all students can afford their own iPad.

The issue that requires the most consideration is that of the impact on student’s learning as a result of this increase in technology within the classroom, and the potential distractions that come with it.

The pros and cons

While questions have been raised on the impact of BYOD programs, there are many benefits of the initiative. One study outlined these benefits which include:

  • High levels of student engagement through interactive assignments,
  • The use of a range of online apps to help teach core curriculum skills and independent learning activities,
  • The contribution to more flexible and collaborative learning experiences.

However, there are arguments for the implications of the rise of BYOD programs. The issue of distraction is a big one. A survey of teachers found that more than 70% feel that students’ devices were having a detrimental effect on their attention span.

With the new opportunity for learning apps at their fingertips, students now also have constant access to social media and the distractions and dangers that this can bring. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and other sources of entertainment can be tempting distractions for students that could otherwise detract from time that could be spent on learning activities.

With the new opportunity for learning apps at their fingertips, students now also have constant access to social media.

Utilising BYOD

Despite potential impacts, it is inevitable that technology is going to play a larger role in our children’s lives, both at home and in the classroom. It should therefore be an integral part of their learning. The issue is how to understand the role of BYOD in education, and consider ways for educators and parents alike to utilise their benefits as learning tools rather than thinking of them as a diversion.