Why Student-Owned Devices?

by Jean Tower


I favor students being able to bring their own computing devices to school, should they (and their parents) elect to do so. I actually think that in a very few years it will be the more common way for students to have devices at school. As BYOT (or BYOD) becomes more popular, what are the reasons to consider it?

One of the advantages of having your own device is that you then have the opportunity to personalize it. Most students who have a personal device develop a very personalized use of the device, beyond the obvious. The obvious are things like – using your accounts like Google Drive and leaving yourself logged in so that use is seamless and barrier-free to use; personalizing the background, fonts, and other system preferences that we hold standardized when it is a school device; having it available anytime, anywhere – not just at school.
The less obvious things are around unleashing creativity and opportunities for meaningful “play” that become available when they have extended access to the device beyond what is needed to complete an assignment. When we own a device (as opposed to borrowing it) we tend to express our own individuality and identity more clearly through its use.

Students will have the comfort and familiarity of using the same device at home and at school, which will make the transition between working at school and working at home much smoother.

Another benefit is that their device will always be with them. Students won’t have to travel to a computer lab, or schedule time with a laptop cart.  You will be able to use technology in study halls and classrooms that previously didn’t have access to those resources.

Technology budgets can be used to invest in professional development, support staff, bandwidth, and checkout machines for those students who do not have access to BYOT.

“53% of students would like for their schools to let them use their own mobile devices within instruction to support their schoolwork.”

In the SpeakUp survey by Project Tomorrow students showed the strongest preference for using their own personal devices vs. school-issued laptops, which is hardly a surprise. They crave control of their own learning, and a school-issued device feels like a borrowed tool that they don’t value as much as their own device. In general, students respect their own devices more and care for them – do you wash a rental car?


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