The acronym BYOD, which stands for Bring Your Own Device, has become a recognized term andstrategy for technology use and integration in 21st century schools. However, administrators and principals should first assess the technological skills and knowledge of their teachers. Secondly, they should carefullyconsider the purposes of upgrading and integrating technology.
Warning and Consideration PRIOR to BYOD Implementation
As long-time educator and editor of From Now On - The Educational Technology Journal, Dr. Jamie McKenzie warns, educators should guard against "toolishness" -- referring to the foolishness of integrating technology before establishing how and why schools should use these devices.
In other words, putting mobile devices in the hands of every teacher and student should not be the first step. Instead, the first focus should be on training teachers, updating lesson plans, and making sure the wireless networks within schools are bulletproof. Sampling mobile devices in a mobile cart setup would be a viable option to try first, before putting devices in each person's hand.
Many schools that chose a 1-to- 1 program as their first step quickly recognized that they weren’t ready. A good example is the Los Angeles Unified school district's failed iPad rollout, which is still in the news as an example to others to learn from their mistakes of not addressing security issues, as well as loss or theft issues.
Top 6 Mobile Brands and Products for Student Learning
Once a school district's administrator and board of directors have determined their schools are ready for digital devices, how do principals, teachers, superintendents, and technology directors decide the best devices for students in their schools?
Here are six of the mobile brands and products deemed best for student learning, based on surveys and feedback:
Laptop/Ultrabook – A laptop or ultrabook offers the most flexibility and computing power of all mobile devices. Schools and educators should not abandon computing in the classroom, because most of the world still runs on computers. Even though tablets have become increasingly popular and have taken market share away from laptops, it does not mean that computing is not important. Laptops and ultrabooks provide the convenience and options of a computer, without the encumbrance of finding the space for a computer monitor and tower.
Microsoft Surface – The Microsoft Surface tablet offers two options for schools to choose for their students: a) models with keyboards; and b) models with touch screens. Microsoft Surface lines offer both options at very competitive prices. Another feature of Microsoft Surface that makes it ideal for students is it works with Office products such as Word and PowerPoint; allows for file sharing; and offers compatibility with thousands of apps.
Google Chromebook – The Chromebook can be a fantastic choice for schools that have incorporated the Google drive environment. It is a cost-effective choice and a powerful laptop that includes a web-based console, and allows for real-time collaboration.
iPad – The IOS/Apple ecosystem within iPads offers numerous options for educators, if schools have prepared themselves to manage issues such as security and loss or theft. Although not a fully operational computer, the iPad is effective for many school-related functions.
Samsung Galaxy Tablet – The Samsung Galaxy Tablet has the features and price point that are school-budget friendly. It includes numerous apps, access to the Internet, social media connections, and functions as a digital e-reader. In addition, the android operating system looks like it might surpass IOS in the near future.
Kindle Fire – Backed by Amazon, the Kindle offers media enriched tools that rival those offered by Apple and Google, especially for downloading and reading ebooks. The Kindle is also on the lower end of the pricing spectrum and is worth consideration for schools.