BYOD versus 1:1…What’s Right for My School?

When I talk with teachers, librarians, and administrators about their mobile learning needs, one of the first questions I ask is whether they are a 1:1 or a BYOD school. That is, do they supply a device (e.g., laptop, tablet, e-reader) to each student or do they allow students to “Bring Your Own Device”?

Every school has to look at both sides of this device debate and decide on a path that best fits their population, budget, and IT environment. Both approaches provide the needed access to mobile learning, and both require careful planning and implementation. Regardless of the approach taken, you will need to establish a comprehensive mobile learning strategy. Hardware is only part of the equation!

The folks at have shared with us this useful infographic showing how BYOD and 1:1 approaches stack up in terms of the key decision-making factors of Cost, Equality, Apps, and Maintenance. Perhaps it’s no surprise that out of these four key considerations, the results are split between equally between BYOD and 1:1.

BYOD is cheaper than the 1:1 model as the school does not pay for devices. This is appealing for schools where budgets are tight for both program implementation and sustainability. However, both programs require significant investment in infrastructure, i.e. bandwidth. 
When considering a device approach, please consider your population. Do your kids own devices to participate in BYOD? Would implementing such a program cause a have and have-not divide? There are cooperative learning approaches to circumvent this issue a bit (just as teachers are adept at creating small groups when half the class forgets their textbook at home!), but overall 1:1 creates an even playing field. All kids have the same device, and all devices have the same capabilities. 
When it comes to app management, 1:1 again leads the way. Since every student has the same device, schools are better able to install and manage applications. In a BYOD environment, operating systems can differ as can device age and functionality. Teachers are challenged with creating digital lessons that are device agnostic and are often called upon to troubleshoot unfamiliar devices.
Maintaining 1:1 devices requires significant resources. However, in a BYOD approach, maintenance is not an issue as the device is the user’s responsibility. Even though maintaining MDM (mobile device management) for a 1:1 program is another additional expense, the ability to control security issues is appealing to schools who want to set restrictions on how devices can be used.
Bottom Line
The best advice I can give when caught in the BYOD versus 1:1 debate is to really consider your school’s unique needs in terms of population, budget, and IT environment. When deciding how to implement a mobile learning initiative, you’ve already made a terrific commitment to your students. There is a reason today’s generation of students is referred to as GenMobile. They are constantly on the go and expect wireless connectivity. Students use digital devices on a daily basis, so let’s capture their attention in enriching and educational ways.
Lerner Digital provides all of our digital products as device agnostically as possible. Your students can access the eBooks, Audisee eBooks with Audio, and Interactive Books that you purchase from us online utilizing any device that has a web browser and Internet access. Our QR codes allow them to open digital products on any device with a QR code reader regardless of operating system. Our products can be processed for your library’s card catalog and accessed without the need to log in. And multiuser access means students can access the same title at the same time across your entire school. Whatever approach you embrace, we’re excited to be part of your mobile learning initiative!