I guess you really don’t realize how much of a game changer BYOT is until you own a smartphone and/or a tablet – in my case, I am the proud and addicted owner of an iPhone and an iPad. For years I have been using the Internet to help me find answers and solutions to all the problems, even trivial items of basic curiosity. However, having access to it 24/7 changes my attitude towards knowledge. It is accessible, it is mine. I do not have to cram for the ever changing test that life throws at me, I just have to be a smart consumer of information and have the skill to search in an efficient manner to get the actual answers I am looking for. Because I know knowledge is within reach, I search for anything and everything. For the doubters who think that Google has made us more stupid, or those who say learning from the Internet makes us gullible, there is a third option. Learners could be discovering a wider range of topics in a exploratory manner. There is a great SlideShare that shares the secrets to search.

Conditions for success of students with their own devices that they are given relative freedom to operate:

  1. They need to know how to determine what content is relevant and reliable. Searching is not about relying on the first resource in the search results. That is only the first step, then you need to dive deeper to find the true treasures of information mixed in with the murky half-truths.
  2. They need to know how to stay focused. The Internet has more than bells and whistles that will distract an untrained, unfocused mind. An average website has audio, video, visuals, ads, and a maze of related and unrelated links that will take users away from their goal.
  3. It is crucial, now more than ever, that teachers provide specific and targeted learning goals. Students should not be left to guess what they are supposed to gaining from the lesson. The only element of mystery should be from the options on their device.

Our district has had an informal BYOT policy in place for the last three years when the AUP was expanded to accept the use of students person devices when used for educational purposes. Last year the district supported their policy with a wireless network that allows students to utilize with their devices. Next year the policy is becoming practice, since the budget woes have phrases out the financial viability of district funded 1:1 classrooms.

I’ve been lucky to (almost always) be in a 1:1 classroom. But there are huge benefits to the students bringing their own devices. They beg to use them: not to plan games, check sports scores, or update social network statuses. No they beg to find ways use their devices to achieve the educational learning goals. As a teacher, I am still learning to let go of always having the answers. But it is slightly easier when you see how excited students are. After finishing a quiz, students were given some options to practice Spanish on their own. Two of the students with their own devices – one an iPod Touch and one an iPad – adapted the options to fit their devices. They did not have walked through the process in baby steps, the asked permission and dove in. Another great motivator for BYOT is the #BYOTchat on Twitter. Sometimes hearing that other people are going through the exact same struggles makes you feel a little more sane.

About Lisa Butler

Middle school geography teacher, tech trainer, Flocabulary MC, Nearpod PioNear, and Edcamp Hershey Founder. I have embraced the power of purposeful technology and am creative with their application. If I am not doing something with ed or tech, I am probably reading children's books, baking with a toddler sidekick, running around, or dreaming of traveling.
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3 Responses to BYOT

  1. sharinglanguage says:


    I am really expectant about how this kind of iniciative can work out.
    Because there may be several obstacles to pull through, such as safety on the Internet (specially when it comes to children), financial resources (either those of the schools or the students, which may vary).
    But kids are really open to new technologies and taking into account how much powerful or beneficial the Internet can be, it seems to be worth trying!.
    So, good luck!

    • lgb06 says:

      Those are valid concerns. However, to assume that students are not accessing the Internet on their personal devices already is a fantasy. There are benefits to guiding their learning and helping them to understand how to use the technology appropriately. BYOT does expect that districts and families are willing to provide. Districts need to invest in wireless infrastructure that will support students devices, and parents will need to invest in a device. When surveyed, at least 75% of the secondary students had a device that could access the Internet. There are options for students who genuinely can not afford to purchase their own.
      You are exactly right that BYOT has powerful potential. When you own something, you are more confident with its capabilities, so students will be able to confidently contribute to their education.

  2. ag4it says:

    To facilitate BYOT schools must give students and staff easy but secure access to the school’s applications from various devices (including iPads, iPhones, Android devices and Chromebooks), while minimizing the intervention required by IT staff. An ideal solution for such a scenario is Ericom AccessNow, a pure HTML5 RDP client that enables remote users to connect to any RDP host, including Terminal Server (RDS Session Host), physical desktops or VDI virtual desktops – and run their applications and desktops in a browser. AccessNow works natively with Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer (with Chrome Frame plug-in), Firefox and any other browser with HTML5 and WebSockets support.

    Download this white paper to learn how a school district is implementing BYOT by capitalizing on innovative clientless HTML5 technology to empower students using Chromebooks and other devices with quick, browser-based access to Windows applications and virtual desktops.

    Note: I work for Ericom

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