Why BYOD Works For Me (and why you should consider using it, too)

Education, Technology

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the wave of the future. According to an article published on techproresearch.com 74% of companies are implementing a BYOD policy in the workplace or planning to in the near future. That number is likely to grow as security improves across platforms and the merging of home and office become one. So, what does this mean for us as educations? First of all, teachers need to stop confiscating cell phones. We need to teach our students how to use the technology they have, because colleges and employers aren’t providing devices anymore and if they aren’t providing it, they certainly aren’t giving employees training on how to use it. Therefore, the responsibility falls to us. College and career ready includes digital citizenship, appropriate use of technology, and how to use smart phones productively.
I’m not sure why so many teachers seem to be anti-technology but I can take a few guesses. I think the first issue which needs to be addressed is that of distraction. Teachers view cell phones in school as a form of distraction. They are. Students are distracted by technology all the time, they’re also distracted by the student sitting next to them, the book they brought with them (first it was Twilight, then it was Hunger Games, remember the Harry Potter phase?), the goofball in the back row who won’t shut up, homework for another class they’re trying to sneak and finish in your class, and that pesky leaf blower which always comes by on a Thursday morning despite the fact that there are no trees anywhere near my classroom! Life has distractions. We’re just adding cell phones to the mix. Besides, banning them and taking them away aren’t fixing the problem. Don’t you have to stop teaching to confiscate a student’s cell phone? Isn’t that a distraction? What if the kid argues with you? Isn’t that a bigger distraction? And let’s not be hypocritical here, haven’t you ever answered a text in class? You have, haven’t you? But you did it quickly and got right back to work. So will they. The majority of students will glance at their phones if a text comes in but most of the time they actually ignore it. Once you take away the forbidden element of the cell phone, it loses some of it’s magic. Besides, will someone take away their cell phone if they become distracted by it at work? No. They’ll just get fired. So maybe they learn more if someone doesn’t take it away at school and they just fail.
What about cheating? Students use cell phones to cheat. Yes. Yes they do. They use cell phones and scraps of paper and water bottles of all things to cheat. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a no cell phone during testing policy. Allowing students to use their phones in class doesn’t mean that they have to use their phones every day. You can still have times when everything needs to be cleared from their desks. No need to change that.
The truth is there are many things employers expect students to be able to do using their cell phones. Over the years I’ve had many supplemental jobs in addition to teaching and all of them were BYOD. Here is a rundown of the things I was expected to use my own device (an iPhone in my case) for at each place of employment:
Actor: Respond to phone calls from agents promptly, download sides from Showfax, maintain a calendar, book voice over appointments through agency system, use Google maps/GPS to arrive at audition locations on time, have digital headshots & resume ready to submit via internet sites even if I wasn’t at my home computer, maintain and update social media sites for self-promotion.
Spin Instructor: Use Mindbody app to maintain schedule, participate in Google groups, respond to emails in a timely manner, hook up phone to gym speakers, create playlists for cycling classes.
Freelance Writer: Respond to assignments and submit drafts to the editor using Asana app, participate in Google groups, use BlogPress app to submit official blog entries for editing and formatting, respond to email in a timely matter.
Graduate Student: Use social media to connect with other educators, submit assignments using Blackboard and Canvas apps, participate in Google Groups and Google Hangouts, download textbooks to Kindle app, keep my phone handy while sitting in class without letting it be a distraction.
Teacher: Create flipped classroom lessons when chaperoning overnight trips using ExplainEverything and Capture app, uploading videos to YouTube, updating my teacher webpage hosted on Teachers.io, checking my Outlook email regularly, integrating my home and school calendars using Fantastical, finding resources to use in class with Flipboard and Zite, uploading tests and quizzes to Dropbox, receiving and grading essays using turnitin.com, keeping students up to date with Remind and grading multiple choice exams using ZipGrade.
I teach a 9th grade technology class and in September my students knew how to use Snapchat, watch videos on YouTube, and text. No email, no Google groups, they were given Schoology accounts but couldn’t access them because it was “too confusing”. When one of my former students got to community college she was so proud because she was the only one in her class who knew how to submit assignments online. It was a requirement of the class and the teacher wasn’t taking any time to show students how it was done. “Figure it out” he told them. My student became very popular over this incident and emailed me to thank me. I think that’s how she met her boyfriend:)
I know change is scary but it is our responsibility to prepare students to enter the “real world” not a world of our own creation and it appears that world is BYOD.

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