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Education
Contributor: ThinkFWD
Choosing the right BYOD program for your school

With more and more schools encouraging students to bring their own devices (BYOD), what factors should educators consider when implementing their own program?

BYOD programs provide varying levels of uniformity and freedom for students. The challenge for educators is to identify which of the BYOD design options aligns to their strategic intent.

So what program would best suit your school?

  • Anything that connects: Students can bring any device that will connect to the school wireless network. This makes the best use of families' existing devices and takes the onus off the school for support. It limits software and resources to those that are available for all devices.
  • Minimum standards: The school sets minimum specs like storage, battery life and memory. This removes some of the uncertainty around the 'anything' option.
  • Choose from a list: The school specifies a limited range of devices. This further increases the certainty of compatibility for the school, but may require families to replace or duplicate existing devices that aren't on the list.
  • Standard: The school chooses a single device. This imposes a clear financial obligation on parents, but does create an opportunity for schools to negotiate for the best possible price.

While multiple BYOD options allow for greater flexibility, it also opens the possibilities for additional challenges across users and ICT teams. Some key examples include:

  • Increased user demand for hardware/software support.
  • The need for professional training for staff and parents.
  • Ecosystems add on to allow hardware functionality.
  • Cross-platform compatibility challenges leading to extra software costs.

BYOD makes the best use of students' and families' existing resources – and, of course, gives them more freedom. However, if BYOD is implemented without clear understanding and direction then it could become more of a hindrance. The key to a successful implementation of BYOD is understanding how it will provide greater value to the learning process while integrating with the ongoing ICT demands of your environment.

All of the above-mentioned BYOD options allow for varied benefits and may suit your needs. You know better than anyone what works best to deliver your school's goals. It's often found that the best option for student, parents, educators and ICT teams as a whole is the third option: choosing from a list. This particular BYOD program can be implemented by the school in-house or through an IT specialist business with a strong understanding of educational environments.

An education-focused IT expert is able to help you identify the best range of models to meet your short and long-term goals. These partners add value not only through their knowledge and industry awareness, but also through their ability to provide BYOD portals that reflect the objectives of you and your school. Not only can they provide branded portals – they are often able to provide logistical support, imaging, technical backup, reporting on purchasing behaviours and insight into how you can continue to refine and deliver a better BYOD experience for you and the students.

Choice, flexibility and simple management – it's how BYOD should be done.

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