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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Is the Time Right for BYOT?

Making use of the technology many students bring to class each day is a touchy subject. Many educators view it as a distraction and even more see it as unfair to those students who cannot afford electronic gadgets, such as an iPhone or Kindle. But that could be changing.

Eric Sheninger, principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey and education writer for The Huffington Post, makes a case for the idea of “Bring Your Own Technology” in a SmartBlog post,  claiming a BYOT program is a way to “leverage a variety of devices that many students already have.” His school piloted a BYOT initiative for seniors, and then expanded it because he felt the program provided real value for both students and teachers.

Sheninger found that students need to view their devices as mobile learning tools and that the school had to adopt language to promote that notion. It’s also important to have professional development and resources available to teachers so they can create lessons specifically connected to the device.

The New Milford BYOT program increased access to technology and encouraged students to use their devices for educational purposes outside the classroom. Acceptable-use policies were required, but it was found those policies could be aligned with policies already in place a school’s discipline code.

In addition, Sheninger knows equity is a large issue facing BYOT and agrees schools should provide for all. But he also considers it an excuse for not moving forward.

“Instead of bashing BYOT and saying how and why it won’t work or is unfair, we would be best served to brainstorm ways in which it can become an educational component of our schools,” he wrote. “The excuses to write off BYOT only serve to undermine the students that we are tasked with educating.”

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