Bring your own device, or BYOD, isn’t just a workplace phenomenon. It is also finding strong legs in education. The U.S. Department of Education’s 2010 Technology Plan, ‘Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology’, states that leveraging the advanced technologies we use in our daily personal and professional lives within the education system has many benefits. It lists some of the benefits as improved student learning, accelerated adoption of effective practices, more engaged experiences and content, complement measurements of student achievement and collaborative teaching strategies, along with data that can be used to help improve the education system over time.
A recent whitepaper published by EdTechMagazine.com states, ‘postsecondary students once looked to academic departments for recommendations on which computing products to purchase and bring to class. But today’s generation of college students is far more technologically savvy.’ The whitepaper goes on to discuss that student’s feel technology is as a key component of their overall success and have an expectation to have their technology needs supported by their chosen college or university. According to the 21st Century Campus Report, 87 percent of current college students considered technology offerings when deciding which institution to attend. And 92 percent of current high school students said that technology will be key differentiators during their university selection process.
Of course as with most things, there are two sides to any issue. Supporting faculty, students, and staff in BYOD-mode has become an increasingly demanding challenge in higher education. Opposition typically is encountered by those who are worried about security breaches and the potential catastrophic impact to a university’s network infrastructure. Critics do often agree that defining and implementing a BYOD strategy is the best way to ease these concerns.
A multitude of online resources exist to help develop an effective BYOD strategy. Cisco outlines three steps to success as being strategy and governance, network readiness, and security in a recent blog. CDW-G’s three step approach includes securing faculty support, deploying virtualization and rethinking support policies. Cherwell advises that higher education institutions should create clear data policies, ensure no student is disadvantaged by the lack of available technology, secure sufficient investment in infrastructure and implement appropriate security measures.
Regardless of one’s position on BYOD, it is clear that it will not be an option much longer, but rather a requirement. The sooner higher education institutions develop and deploy effective BYOD strategies the better. They will be able to remain competitive in recruiting students and producing a high percentage of graduates.