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BLOG: Bringing your own technology to school

Matt Richards | June 3, 2013
Students’ access to the latest devices, such as tablets, will bring new ways to learn when challenges are overcome with technology.

Speak to an IT manager about the idea of users bringing their own devices to work or an education institution and you'll often get a hesitant reply, usually about the security risks and problems managing so many disparate systems.

The challenges are real. They get more complicated as we move from regular desk-bound PCs to mobile devices, such as tablets and mobile phones in the years to come.

Yet, the idea that end-users should bring their own devices to work and school has taken root as well over the past several years. That's because the issues often brought up can be overcome and the benefits are truly worth the trouble.

At schools, what is clear are the boundless improvements to pedagogy that such bring-your-own-technology (BYOT) can provide, on top of the associated boosts in productivity and user-friendliness.

With their own devices, students are more familiar with the learning environment. If a learning app can run on both Windows and Mac, or possibly Android and iOS in future, then students can fire up any device they want on campus and be connected.

Learning, after all, is no longer confined to the classroom. This will be done online, on the go, and just about anywhere that a student can access the information needed, or get in touch with teachers.

Personal devices more up-to-date

Times have also changed. While the emphasis at a lot of schools in the past was to equip each student with a PC, today, many students have personal devices which are often more up-to-date than what their schools provide.

With BYOT, students are better connected, more often connected and more effectively connected to the learning process. It also means they quite often have the latest technology at their fingertips, literally.

With a tablet, for example, a child can interact intuitively with gestures before even learning to use a keyboard and mouse. A stylus attached to a tablet sometimes helps fire up the imagination, whether this is scribbling down some notes at a field trip or drawing up a rough sketch of a diagram discussed in class.

Just like the working world that does not stop because office hours are over, students take their learning wherever they are. This is not just in the form of homework or assignments. With technology as an enabler, their learning continues as an everyday event.

The challenge for schools - and indeed, all connected organisations - is to make it seamless for users to come to school or work and plug in their own devices.

At St Columba Anglican School, students now bring their own laptops or tablets to access school services. Whether this is the academic system that is available online, or Windows shared drives, they get access from their own devices.

 

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