Have you joined the BYOD conversation? The bring your own device (to work) movement is a trend that has been bubbling along for the last few years as a result of the so-called consumerization of information technology. You know, the fact that the average Jane and John Doe carry an iPhone, Android device, or tablet wherever they go, including to the workplace. They’re affordable, easy to use, fun, and customized to individual preferences, and in most cases, people use their devices for personal and professional communication. It’s part of the blurring of public and private spheres, of home and workplace that defines twenty-first century digital life. It’s also a key shift in information technology, in which consumer markets—rather than business and government organizations–are driving IT innovation. Various corporations have actively adopted BYOD policies, for a variety of reasons, including cost savings (to the employer), improving employee performance (employees know how to use their own devices, requiring little if any training), keeping on top of and driving IT innovation, and controlling security and legal issues (controlling the flow of proprietary and/or confidential information).
As part of this movement, some schools around the country have begun to experiment with BYOD. Not all school districts allow for this, but in districts that do, it’s typically a way to stretch a dollar, given that many schools can’t afford to meet the IT needs of the entire student body. With a BYOD program, kids who have devices bring them in, allowing those who don’t to make full use of the devices the school does have. Sufficient bandwidth for the increasing numbers of on-campus devices can sometimes be a stumbling block, as can staff resistance. A recent post on Stephen’s Lighthouse focuses on ten schools that are experiencing a mostly positive transition to BYOD policies. Earlier this year, Mind/Shift took a look at Minnesota’s Mankato Public School System and its implementation of a BYOD program. One of the key implementation pieces there was a letter to parents, with a checklist of things to look for in choosing devices for their kids.
One of the best overviews I’ve seen of the BYOD phenomenon is a fairly long piece (The Littler Report) on the Lexology site. It’s written from a compliance standpoint but offers a great introductory overview of the trend and related terminology.
Does your school have a BYOD policy? If so, let us know how it works. And check in again in two weeks for more from TFCB! [photo: Wikimedia Commons]