The Darker Side of BYOD in Education

June 20, 2015

2:00 pm

Brian Meller recently did a nice overview of BYOD benefits in education, highlighting the ways it is reshaping modern classrooms. Considering this potential, it is unsurprising that educational institutions are rushing to implement BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and take teaching and learning practices to the next level.

According to recent surveys, 56% of educational institutions in the US have implemented BYOD in 2014 and the trend is skyrocketing in other world’s regions. This figure also grows parallel to the use of mobile devices among preteens and teens, whose daily habits are increasingly defined by mobile devices and internet access. From this standpoint, the implementation of BYOD in education may seem only a logical trend. However, it may not always be for the best.

In fact, BYOD and technology overuse can impede students’ academic progress, as suggested in recent publications that found a direct correlation between these two.

An alternative view of BYOD

Whereas most US schools see mobile devices as a way to support interactive learning and improve classroom activities, some surveys suggest they are not necessarily a positive change in education. Recently, a discussion paper published by London School of Economics found that banning mobile phones in schools lead to a 14.23% improvement in test scores for low-achieving students and a slight overall improvement. This definitely sheds a new light on the trend of mass mobile device introduction in classrooms, which is partly encouraged by BYOD implementation.

Certainly, the use of students’ personal devices has its benefits for both students and institutions alike, but it may not always prove to be as efficient as expected. In fact, there is a whole range of side-effects technology overuse can bring, some of which are discussed in a new white paper by Mobile Shop. Namely, the paper mentions child obesity and cyberbullying as two major threats related to technology overuse, adding that students’ sleep and social habits can also be affected in a negative way. Therefore, BYOD is not necessarily a recipe for improvement despite its promising potential.

The next steps for educational institutions

It is true that the modern education can hardly function without technology, which is only natural considering the impact it has made on our daily lives. Nevertheless, its implementation should be regulated on an institutional level in order to bring positive results. With 92% of teens who report going online on a daily basis, some form of regulation must exist in order to help them balance their activities. This is, of course, far from saying that mobile devices in schools should be abandoned altogether; it rather points to a new dimension of technology expansion that should be considered in relation to BYOD implementation.

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Tech blogger and researcher fascinated with the way the business world changes in the digital age.