Device diversity

With BYOD, 1:1 initiatives and digital learning, educators explore the challenges and benefits of next-gen learning experiences

In today’s mobile world, education has become an immersive and interactive experience. A student with a mobile device in hand has access to an endless supply of information at school and beyond. While books and lectures have historically constituted the backbone of teaching, the introduction of 1:1, bring your own device (BYOD) and bring your own technology (BYOT) initiatives in education have opened up new learning horizons for pupils, but also brought in novel challenges to the educational system. Such challenges include changing roles of the teacher in the learning process, how the device is used at school and at home, and the expectations of students, parents and the educational system as a whole from these devices.

Device Diversity and Student Success

While technology in and of itself has not been proven to positively impact student learning, it has the ability to amplify great teaching practices that in turn affect a change in learning practices. A large number of students do seem to be engaged by the idea that they can be more independent about finding information and learning new things for themselves. According to Professor Peter Twining, Professor of Education Futures at the Open University, there is some strong evidence that in schools where mobile devices are used intensively, the children feel that they have more agency; that they are more independent and that they have more responsibility for their own learning.

The use of technology in schools provides educators and students alike with unique opportunities to improve the learning experience inside and outside the classroom. Students can benefit from uninterrupted access to educational resources, learn at their own speed and ask for one-to-one help in case they lack the confidence to do so in the classroom. Teachers, on the other hand, can use technology to guide and personalise the learning process and help students with anytime, anywhere access to educational resources that are relevant to their individual needs.   

While BYOD schemes are nearly as used as 1:1 programmes in some US educational segments, and eight-out-of-10 US high school students own a mobile device, BYOD implementation in the UK’s elementary and secondary schools remains rare, according to Prof Twining. Conversely, BYOD is typical throughout higher education where 1:1 schemes are extremely rare and where adult students take on more ownership of and personally invest in their education. As our knowledge of what works and what doesn’t grows, leveraging BYOD may prove to be the most sustainable model for embedding technology across the board in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

With BYOD deployments, schools can focus less on acquiring and managing hardware and more on designing the learning space students will use.  Instructional design teams work shoulder to shoulder with IT to give access and resources to students that can be accessed from any device, whether or not it is owned by the student and regardless of device type (phone, tablet or desktop) while improving network security and data loss prevention at appropriate levels.  This includes native, web and virtual applications, offering ultimate flexibility to meet the specific needs of a diverse body of student, faculty and staff.

Embracing Device Diversity: A Way Forward

When one considers the great growth in online and adult learning, app and desktop virtualisation is gaining additional footholds at universities as a way to deliver needed learning resources to non-traditional and traditional students alike regardless of the device they use. While elementary and secondary schools have historically bought a device for every student and teacher, universities have focused on finding a way to leverage the hardware students already own to deliver needed applications and learning resources.
However, we are beginning to see the same approach in primary and secondary school systems, and it may be helpful for more education environments to consider these options.