Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives have proven to be a cost-effective way for schools to keep their students connected and work-ready without having to invest in expensive technology. While some schools still choose to lease or purchase uniform computers, tablets, or e-readers, others have opted to allow their classes to use their own devices.
Obviously, this carries some safety and security concerns, especially as it relates to younger students. There should be specific guidelines for child internet use, and allowing students to utilize their own devices in class carries some responsibility for the school.
There are some things that any organization should keep in mind while allowing outside portable devices into the school:
- Wi-Fi Connectivity & Piracy
If students will be connecting to the existing Wi-Fi network, it’s important to have a fair use and safety policy in place. Students should be made aware of both the accepted behaviors and the stated consequences for their internet activity, and it should be made clear for both the students and the parents that these consequences apply even if the device was purchased by someone outside the school. The Child Internet Protection Act, issued by the FCC, is a great place to start for best practices.
Even from a young age, internet users can be taught about the dangers of piracy and illegal downloads. It’s not just that pirating movies, games, apps, e-books, or other content is illegal, but it can also lead to malicious software being installed. That content can infect the school’s network, even though the device is individually-owned.
- Device Compatibility
Educators must remember that some students’ devices will be the latest “hot gadget,” but that other students may be lucky if they get to bring a relative’s discarded first generation iPhone with a cracked screen. Before requiring or recommending any apps or content, make sure that the content is compatible with older generations of various devices so no one is left out of the learning experience.
- Social Media Awareness and Classroom Rules
It’s never too early to teach students about the potential dangers of oversharing online, especially on social media platforms and through email. A well-rounded course of instruction will provide students with guidelines for protecting their data.
One of the biggest headaches for schools that have implemented BYOD policies is helping their students understand that there’s a good time for screen time, and other times are meant for powering down. Just because they were allowed to use their devices during one class doesn’t mean they’re allowed to get them out during another class. This is a good way to promote a healthy screen-life balance when they aren’t in school.
Whatever policies your school implements for the coming school year, remember that it sets the tone for your students to become comfortable, secure technology users. The foundation they receive today will help your young digital natives be safe and responsible, no matter what innovations come along.