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Education Featured Article

November 20, 2012

Districts Discuss Pros and Cons of Students' Personal Technology in the Classroom

By Monica Gleberman, Contributing Writer

School districts all over the world are struggling to bring their classrooms into the 21st century with the purchase of the latest technology, but budget cuts and technology costs have made it almost impossible. Now, schools are looking into the controversial decision to have students “BYOD,” or Bring Your Own Device to their classroom.

A bunch of Australian schools are currently trying to decide the best path they should take, as the technology it received from the federal government is reaching the end of its lifespan thanks to the digital education revolution (DER) plan. The plan aims to contribute “sustainable and meaningful change to teaching and learning in Australian schools that will prepare students for further education, training, and to live and work in a digital world.”

The Australian government invested over $2.1 billion to support technology integration within the school districts. At the time, students in grade 9 and 12 received a computer.

There have been no major complaints with the technology the students have already received; however, some worry that by allowing students to bring their own personal smart device and/or tablet to school might lead to trouble.

“Educators…are concerned with schools’ ability to continue providing computing devices to students should, as it seems likely, funding models for one-to-one student programs be withdrawn in 2013-2014,” said Joseph Sweeney from Intelligent Business Research Services in a report released Tuesday. “A key element for BYOD decision making is how much control of content and software teachers need in the classroom.”

Many teachers question how secure students data will be, if the increase in devices will slow down the district’s Internet connection, and how to patrol what students are viewing. To answer some of these questions, districts throughout Australia, such as the Hampton Park Secondary College in Melbourne, are testing the waters with a pilot program of their own – letting students bring devices to school for a trial period.

Although it’s too early to tell, it looks like many teachers and parents alike remain skeptical that BYOD is a good decision. However, as districts scramble for every dollar it might be the only decision it has left.

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Edited by Allison Boccamazzo

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