“Should XYZ Independent School District implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to support the growing need of utilizing mobile devices for online and Web 2.0 technology access to provide effective and relevant teaching and student learning?”
The students of XYZ Independent School District are prohibited to bring and use mobile devices, (i.e. smartphones, tablets, laptops) in the classroom to access online information for educational purposes and to access Web 2.0 technology (i.e. Glogster EDU, Google Earth, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Video) applications. The District provides students with Internet access through the availability of computer labs and computer on wheels (laptops in mobile carts) in their schools where Internet access is limited only to District-approved educational resources and applications that do not have any network connections or linkages with social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Pinterest. There are a few schools in XYZ Independent School District who have obtained tablets and iPods to increase technology use and availability among students and teachers. However, the available technology tools and resources that schools of XYZ Independent School District provide are not consistently updated due to funding restrictions.
A group of students, teachers, and parents of XYZ Independent School District has decided to open a discussion with the Superintendent and the XYZ School Board with regard to considering the development and implementation of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to support students and teachers to obtain more online access and Internet mobility using student-owned mobile devices. This includes the provision in using more relevant and meaningful Web 2.0 technology applications that both students and teachers can use to support effective teaching and learning experiences, particularly in addressing the high demands of a tech-savvy and global society. However, there is also a group of students, teachers, and parents who are opposed to the idea of implementing a BYOD policy due to strong hesitancy in opening Internet access among students and teachers. Some of the issues raised included situations that will lead to more opportunities for cyber bullying, unlimited access to unfavorable sites (i.e. pornography), violation of individual’s privacy for greater possibilities of sexting, more opportunities for distractions (i.e. playing games online), and the like. In doing so, a dialogue has been set among students, teachers, and parents who oppose the possibility of implementing a BYOD policy and those who support such a policy for more relevant teaching and student learning. Each group is represented with a selected individual, specifically with Mr. Freedom Advocate who supports the pro-BYOD policy and with Mrs. Privacy Believer who supports the anti-BYOD policy.
Mrs. Privacy Believer: “With the ongoing changes happening in modern civilization, it is recognized that today’s schools have to be updated with the technology tools and resources in order to support the ongoing educational needs of students, particularly to meet the demands of a tech-savvy and global society (Education Week, 2011). The schools in XYZ Independent School District provide such opportunities through the availability of computer labs and computer-on-wheels that students and teachers use for collaboration, communication, and creativity (Owen, 2010). Likewise, there are schools in XYZ Independent School District, if not most, that have obtained tablets or iPods to support students and teachers with higher-end technology access (Lytle, 2012). Furthermore, the District provides Internet access, which is also monitored to ensure that students and teachers are safely accessing information for purposes of teaching and student learning (Rodden, 2003). It is highly necessary to ensure that all students and teachers are provided with a safe and nurturing environment, devoid of any form of harm that will impede students’ growth and teachers’ professional development (Ysleta Independent School District, 2011). At this point, it would be interesting to know what Mr. Freedom Advocate would like to address regarding my statement, which encompasses the positive and productive ways that XYZ Independent School District’s schools have been implementing to support technology use in classroom instruction.”
Mr. Freedom Advocate: “Thank you, Mrs. Privacy Believer. I believe that it is important to recognize the ongoing changes happening in modern civilization, particularly in matters that involve efficiency, productivity, innovation, and creativity (Education Week, 2011). For this reason, it is critical for today’s schools to be competent with current technology tools and resources to support the growing educational needs of students and teachers (Education Week, 2011). This includes being open to allowing students to use their own mobile technologies to utilize less restrictive Internet access, particularly in the use of Web 2.0 applications, and to encourage one-to-one computing (Wong, 2012). In addition, you have mentioned that we live in a tech-savvy and global society (Education Week, 2011). In doing so, it would be highly beneficial and significant to adopt a BYOD policy to support the modern changes happening in this society (Wong, 2012). This includes the introduction and cultivation of new learning, the use of various web-based tools that can accelerate and advance learning, the collaboration and communication with peers using different types of technology tools and resources, and the improvement of students’ educational experiences through effective use of different technologies (Hilt, 2011). Do you not find value in providing students with these relevant opportunities of academic achievement?”
Mrs. Privacy Believer: “Yes, Mr. Freedom Advocate, there is value for students to obtain different benefits when they are provided with many opportunities to engage in teaching and learning experiences using different types of technologies (Wong, 2012). However, students of XYZ Independent School District should be provided first with a safe and nurturing environment, including the protection from abusive use of language in web-based applications; physical and emotional harm from Internet predators; cyber bullying from peers and other individuals; exposure to inappropriate Internet content; verbal and mental harm from electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of online communication; and the like (Federal Communications Commission, 2012). Quality student learning cannot be achieved if students’ learning environments are negotiated in favor of wide-open access to Internet information (Federal Communications Commission, 2012). Now, Mr. Freedom Advocate, can you further explain as to how BYOD policy can guarantee student safety and quality student learning?”
Mr. Freedom Advocate: “Mrs. Privacy Believer, the safety of the students in XYZ Independent School District is not being negotiated to favor wide-open access to Internet information. It is well recognized and understood that students need to have a well-balanced learning environment where safety and security is one of the essential factors to ensure quality student learning. However, it is highly essential that students be provided with opportunities to develop and implement less restrictive access to Internet information, particularly in the use of web 2.0 applications (Wong, 2012). The BYOD policy can also provide students and teachers with appropriate guidance in establishing learning environments that are positive and proactive when it comes to student safety and security. Yes, there are computer labs and computer-on-wheels in different schools of XYZ Independent School District, including some schools that have deployed iPods and tablets. However, the implementation of these devices have been mostly used to conduct student assessments, basic methods of research, and use of proprietary applications such as Microsoft Office products and Apple-based applications (Owen, 2010). Don’t you agree, Mrs. Privacy Believer?”
Mrs. Privacy Believer: “I do not agree that the use of these different technologies in XYZ Independent School District have been focused only on student assessments. Students and teachers have used these technology tools and resources to create wonderful projects, including research, and arts and crafts. What is wrong with using Microsoft Office products and Apple-based applications (Hickins, 2009)? Students and teachers have used these and other similar computer-based applications for many years (Hickins, 2009). These software applications have worked in the classrooms to support student learning and teaching (Hickins, 2009). Furthermore, aren’t schools supposed to be accountable with student performance (Education Commission of the States, 2012)? What is wrong with using these technologies to assess and evaluate students’ academic standing (Education Commission of the States, 2012)?”
Mr. Freedom Advocate: “I am not claiming that it is wrong for schools of XYZ Independent School District to use proprietary software. However, it would be more beneficial if schools would focus more on relevant technology-based practices, where students and teachers are provided with wider flexibility to use different technologies that students have to establish more meaningful teaching and student learning experiences (Wong, 2012). Moreover, the Internet access that students and teachers currently use through campus technology tools and resources has been very restrictive, to the point where teachers give up in using relevant web-based applications because of the consistent blockings of even education-based applications online (Wong, 2012). How can we expect our students and teachers to cultivate learning environments that are based on real-world situations when we do not provide them with opportunities to develop decision-making abilities, critical and analytical skills, collaborative learning, and trust and dependability (Wong, 2012)? The development and implementation of the BYOD policy can support student-computing initiatives where students and teachers can make use of student mobile devices to engage students and boosts academic achievement (Wong, 2012). This results to lesser absenteeism and higher student academic success (Wong, 2012).”
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Educational Leader. Advocate of Equality and Equity in Education. Photographer. Graphic Designer. Web Developer. Digital Artist. Technology is my medium for creative and artistic expression.