Kristine Sevik, senior advisor at the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, and Lars-Jacob Hove, head of product management at itslearning, explain the consequences of a newly-released BYOD report for education in general and itslearning users, respectively.
The days of students saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ will soon be over.
The bring your own device (BYOD) trend currently sweeping schools in Norway and abroad means that more students will soon have 24/7 access to education materials on itslearning on their personal devices.
Students expect to use multiple devices
Kristine Sevik, senior advisor at the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, says BYOD, which refers to teachers and students using their own devices instead of school-issued devices, means that students will never have to transfer homework between personal and school devices.
“Today´s students expect to be able to use whatever tool they want at school. Sometimes they want to be able to solve the same task using four devices,” Sevik says. “If students are given the choice, they will want to use their own device, because that is the one they have chosen.”
This fall, five Norwegian counties will implement BYOD in their schools, an increase of two counties during the 2012/2013 school year, according to the report Kartlegging av Skolens Forhold til ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (Mapping schools´ relationship to ‘Bring Your Own Device’) recently released by the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, a government body tasked with advising school managers on good ICT practice.
The report, which outlines key issues relating to BYOD from the Norwegian counties´ perspectives and how schools can implement the scheme, has kicked off a discussion among Norwegian counties about implementing BYOD in more Norwegian secondary schools. It was released in May as itslearning moves forward with its responsive design approach, which ensures that the presentation of itslearning adapts to all devices.
“Students are using powerful computers in their spare time. Many of them get frustrated with school computers that are often slow and run bad software. A lot of students prefer using their own devices with programs they are used to,” Sevik says.
Presentation of itslearning adapted to all devices
Lars-Jacob Hove, head of product management at itslearning, says an increasing number of teachers and students will be accessing itslearning through their mobile phones or tablets in the coming years.
“Our users are moving from using school-issued devices to a wide range of devices, from ultra portable devices with small screens and low resolutions to high-resolution, touch-enabled TV sets,” Hove says. “We are seeing a move towards more mobility in education. Both teachers and students will be accessing itslearning through their mobile phones or their tablets.”
itslearning´s responsive design strategy, which ensures the presentation of itslearning is adapted to all devices through the device browser, allows staff and students to access itslearning on non-standardized equipment. The same information can be accessed on multiple devices because all materials in itslearning are saved using cloud-computing software.
“Our users will not need to install any additional software on their device, and they do not need to worry about updating any applications on their device. All they have to do is log in and access their content,” Hove says.
More schools to implement BYOD this fall
Akershus and Hordaland counties, which both use itslearning, will implement BYOD for the first time this fall, according to the report. They will join Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane and Rogaland, three counties that are already practicing BYOD. Rogaland was the first county to practice BYOD.
“Rogaland county has had really positive experiences with BYOD. They say that practicing BYOD is not a big change from using school laptops. The students want to use their own tools,” Sevik says. “The question is, ‘what do you need to be able to do your job as a student?’ If you can do your job using a tablet or mobile phone you should be able to do it.”
Hove says that allowing students to use their own devices will ultimately give them freedom to decide where and when they learn, because they will use the same device in personal and school life. “In addition to having control over the device, this may help remove some of the barriers between the formal school life and their leisure time, extending the classroom and learning activities into their personal life through more informal learning,” Hove explains.
Schools must develop BYOD policy, says itslearning manager
County officials interviewed for the report expressed a number of concerns with the scheme, including how to prevent students from cheating on digital exams when they are all using different devices. There are also privacy concerns related to whether teachers are entitled to access personal devices to determine if cheating is taking place. Another concern is the danger that BYOD will widen the social divide in schools, with some students using more expensive equipment than others. Sevik says these are among the issues that will be discussed at the June meeting of county school IT managers.
Hove advises schools to weigh the benefits and challenges of BYOD before implementing. “Schools need to carefully consider how they implement BYOD and set policy accordingly,” Hove explains. “Many schools ask students and parents to agree to acceptable use policies for web access and computer use. BYOD should be a part of this. And, where possible, schools should offer additional access to devices for students to use in the classroom to help increase personal access.”
The report also polled the county authorities about whether they anticipate BYOD will save them money. It concluded that nine counties thought that BYOD would save them money, while seven counties were unsure and three thought that it would not. This June,the report will be presented at a meeting of county IT managers that will be held in Fredrikstad and hosted by Østfold County.
Posted on June 24, 2013
by Mark Macdonald