Monday, February 27, 2012

5 Areas of Consideration for Developing a BYOD Policy for Your School or District

While there is some debate about whether a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Policy perpetuates inequities and the technology gap, school districts in times of tightening budgets and limited resources are looking for cost-effective ways to increase student access to technology. While BYOD should not be a substitution for adequately funding access to technology for all students, it is a means by which we do not have to ask students to unplug when their walk through our school building doors. But in providing this increased level of access, there are areas of consideration before opening the WiFi to student use, and here’s a short list of 5 considerations for implementing a BYOD policy for your school district.

1. Be aware of the technical requirements needed for providing BYOD in your school or district.  For example, make sure your hardware and software is prepared to handle things like the sudden increase of IP addresses with all the new devices logged on to your network. Also, how will the sudden increase in devices affect bandwidth? Taking stock of your network to see if BYOD is going to enhance access not degrade access is important.

2. Set up general guidelines for BYOD access.  These guidelines are important. They let students know that using their own devices is welcome, but instruction and educational use is the primary reason for that access. Here are some key things to consider when setting up these guidelines for a BYOD policy:
  • Clear statement in policy that use of a device during the school day is clearly at the discretion of teachers and staff. They are to put the devices away when asked to do so.
  • Clear instructions to students that using devices during the instructional day is in support of their educational activities. Personal access for personal reasons is secondary.
  • Make clear to students that their use of a device must not disrupt the learning of others.
  • Clear statement in policy that use of a device on the school WiFi might mean their device could be subject to search and/or seizure under certain circumstances.
  • Clear statement that use of a device under the school or district’s BYOD policy requires the student's adherence to the school or district’s acceptable use policy.
  • Clear statement regarding what kinds of resources students will have access to using their own devices under the BYOD policy.
3. Provide statements of clear consequences for student failure to follow the school or district’s acceptable use policy and BYOD guidelines. Consequences could be the loss of access for a period of time.

4. Clear description of the procedures students must follow in order to optain access under the BYOD policy. This tells students clearly what they need to do in order to obtain their access.

5. Clear disclaimers regarding what the school is responsible for and not responsible for. For example:
  • Access to the WiFi is for Internet access only. No access to other network resources is provided.
  • School district IT department is not responsible for the maintenance and repair to personal devices used under the BYOD policy.
  • The school district is not responsible to damaged, lost, or stolen devices used under the BYOD policy.
It is vital that schools and school  districts seeking to implement a BYOD solution make sure they maintain the integrity of the computer networks and provide some level of safety as specified under CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act). A BYOD properly and effectively implemented can create an environment where students can remain plugged in and engage in using their own devices as 21st century learning tools.

8 comments:

  1. Excellent suggestions! We have implemented BYOD at my school and your suggestions are right on target. As an IT Director I can tell you that investing in the necessary network infrastructure upfront is critical, and that continuous re-evaluation of network usage is necessary for program success. So often this is only mentioned as a footnote in conversations about BYOD.

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  2. Thanks for the additional information. I think you are right. Too often in our zeal to offer programs and ideas, like BYOD we don't take the time time evaluate infrastructure.

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  3. Great article , I am so glad that I have visited your site.I was looking for this information.

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  4. Great post, does anyone have an existing BYOD policy that they would be willing to share?

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  5. Thank you for these suggestions! Do you have any sample or existing exemplary policies that you could share?

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  6. I can only share my own district's policy. Send me an email and I can send that to you.

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  7. Meghan Douglas-DowlingJune 2, 2012 at 11:16 PM

    I have been looking into BYOD policies for an assignment in my Digital Citizenship class. I found the policy at Mount Erin College (outer Melbourne, Australia) to be quite interesting: http://preview.tinyurl.com/bu7365g

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