MET:BYOD - Bring Your Own Device

From UBC Wiki

This page originally authored by Kent Jamieson and Simon Forst (2012). This page edited and revised by Joel Tremblay and Lisa Nevoral (2013)

BYOD is an acronym for the phrase "bring your own device". BYOD refers to the ability to use one's own electronic device (such as a laptop, smartphone, or tablet) in a workplace, school, or other setting, rather than relying on the devices supplied by that location. While the term BYOD is most frequently used in the corporate sector with employees using their own devices to access work email, calendars and contacts, it is also gaining interest in school settings. Most post-secondary institutions have embraced students using their own laptops, and access to campus wi-fi is generally ubiquitous. The adoption of BYOD in K-12 schools has been somewhat slower, as many school administrators and IT departments are reticent to allow children to access school networks and internet. Other acronyms have been used to describe this concept: BYOT (bring your own technology), BYOL (Bring your own laptop), and BYOC (bring your own computer).

Pros and Cons of BYOD


Engaged Students Using Mobile Devices

In order for positive change to happen regarding BYOD it is important to know that policies and practices should be in place before technology integration happens in the classroom. Organisational management should be at the forefront when introducing any BYOD policy in schools. Working alongside students to figure out appropriate user agreements and permissions is of paramount importance. Teachers that utilize effective strategies have reported dramatic decrease in discipline and behaviour issues (Nielsen, 2011).

Along with the benefit of having students in class with powerful and personalized research tools, there are other advantages to a BYOD classroom:

  1. Learners are more engaged in connected classrooms
  2. Increased opportunities for introverted students to participate in discussions
  3. Cost savings for schools
  4. Variety of ways for students to produce and present work
  5. Students more likely to remember their device rather than their pencils
  6. Offers a way of supplying, displaying and creating ebooks
  7. BYOD is seen as a privilege, promoting increased respect for educational process
  8. Taking away a device is a powerful deterrent/consequence for misbehaviour
  9. Allows for students and teachers to swap roles
  10. Encourages choice of educational tools/apps
  11. Provides opportunity to teach responsibility for devices, along with digital citizenship
  12. Increases the ability for collaboration and cooperative work
  13. Fosters problem-solving, creativity, and other 21st Century skills
  14. Access to information anytime and anywhere
  15. Creates life-long learners

This video provides a humourous look at the pros of BYOD. Created by Jody McKinnon 2015.


Damaged Devices just one of the Disadvantages to BYOD

By incorporating new devices in classrooms and putting an increased responsibility for learning in the hands of the students there is a potential for problems to exist in classrooms. Although BYOD brings about greater freedom and flexibility for learning, it also presents many disadvantages, such as:

  1. Increased professional development costs for faculty and staff
  2. Increased digital divide amongst ‘have’ and ‘have not’ students
  3. Apps/tools not common to all platforms
  4. Potential for increased parental concerns over ‘safe use’
  5. Increase possibility of theft at school
  6. Potential damage to device
  7. Unwillingness of teachers to take risks trying BYOD
  8. Shift from network to user in regards to tech support
  9. Device seen as status symbol – peer pressure for certain apps
  10. Greater chances of plagiarism
  11. Technical infrastructure not capable of meeting influx of wireless devices
  12. Parents unwilling for their child to bring their own devices to school or unable to afford devices
  13. Students may forget their device or charger at home
  14. Teachers may have to provide tech support and troubleshoot technical problems instead of teaching
  15. Device inequity – the brand or configuration of each device will vary and this leads to varying degrees of functionality and speeds of output and performance
  16. Students may be distracted or not on task
  17. Harder for IT departments to ensure appropriate protection and filtering of Internet content
  18. There is a possibility of increased cyberbullying

Although many drawbacks and disadvantages exist, there seems to be push toward introducing BYOD policies into education. Rather than dismiss these opportunities for personalized learning because of these inconveniences, schools need to set into place policies and infrastructure to aid in successful implementation of BYOD programs.


Forcing IT to Adapt

How is IT Going to Handle More and More Devices?

With countless mobile devices showing up in schools and classrooms across the globe, IT (Information Technology) specialists are finding themselves overburdened and overwhelmed with wireless and bandwidth issues. Each device that connects to a school’s network has the capability to use large amounts of data throughout the day, upload and download information and stream video.

As well, with any BYOD program, cost is always a concern. Although hardware expenses may decrease for administration there are still concerns over the general economies of scale that corporate IT has thus far had in place. As the consumerization of IT continues to grow, more and more people are asking to use devices which are not standardized. This breaking free of the “commonality theme” (Lowe, 2011) that normally dictated IT departments may further increase budgetary needs that are yet to be fully imagined.


File:Devices lead to more work.png
Device Management Taking Time

Another issue that arises from BYOD programs is the need to secure data on personal devices. As faculty and staff bring in their own tech tools and are privy to more sensitive material like student records, etc., security might include locking down the device and applying varying management profiles to it. “Security has the potential to be a mess in a BYOD scenario” (Lowe, 2011)

Ultimately, it falls to the school to decide whether this security needs to be non-intrusive or restrictive. The latter option can be as debilitating as blocking core features and services like iCloud or Siri on the iPhone 4S(Faas, 2012).

Other issues to consider for IT managers become quite technical after deciding how strict a service they need to provide. Issues such as single sign on, SAML compliance and remote wiping are just a few of the concerns that may need to be addressed.

Walled Garden

Walled garden may be too limiting

There are many effective ways of approaching BYOD in terms of mobile device management. One way is termed the Walled Garden approach. IT managers have praised this technique as it provides more control over devices within ‘the wall’. The idea that the walled garden puts all data into a single space was traditionally a strong selling feature for its implementation with BYOD. However, IT specialists are sceptical that this actually reduces risk.

Moreover, the walled garden when in use has a number of disadvantages for the user, namely heightened restrictions on services and applications. “A walled garden would limit an organization’s ability to utilize the many benefits of apps because often they fall outside of the confines of the walled garden.” (Amodio, 2011) As students need to rely more and more on a variety of applications in their school day, restrictions such as these would further increase frustrations when using mobile devices in class. The stronger the need for apps in education, the more likely organizations will choose to avoid the walled garden.

Social Implications

Bringing personal devices into the classroom has several advantages and disadvantages in relation to the social aspect of a school. Stager (2012) suggests the digital divide would be encouraged by allowing people to use their own devices. This refers to the concept that some students would be able to use newer devices with better technology, while others may have an inferior devices or no device at all. Barkhuus (2005) argues that students may get distracted by the ability to access social networks in class.

Analysts such as LaMaster (2012), Neilson (2011), and Keenan (2012) suggest that having more affluent students use their own devices would close the digital divide, as this would allow schools to use their existing technology budgets to provide devices for students that do not have their own. Allowing students to bring their own devices gives the opportunity to be able to collaborate on online projects such as blogs, Google Docs, or websites. (Glicksman, 2012)


Solutions – Putting the Pieces together

Best Practices

A great way to establish a successful BYOD program is to develop a best practice system for users to keep their devices virus free, make sure they have remote wipe on their phones and tablets (if available), and enforce strong password protection (Smith, 2012).

Along with a plethora of software, firmware and IT solutions, the main point seems to be that taking the proper precautions to protect the organization in question is vital to maintaining a successful BYOD program. Even before the implementation of BYOD, having policies and practices in place, along with employee training, seems to be the prudent option for businesses and schools alike.

Software Solutions

Rather than dismiss a BYOD policy because of the drawbacks, and rather than implement a complete walled garden approach, schools have other options available to them. Software solutions, for example, can help manage security needs as well as mobile device management needs. In fact, research says that IT professionals who are making the switch to BYOD are finding it easier than they first predicted. “There is a whole little ecosystem growing around the consumerization of IT” (Smith, 2012). Because of this community of innovators, solutions are popping up from many software firms. Companies such as Good Technology, Virtual Works and Aruba Networks are just a few of the systems making it easier for organizations to deal with the difficulties that arise through BYOD programs.


Another possibility is the "IT-as-a-service" concept (Finch, 2012) whereby IT specialists can take individual requests from employees and deliver the necessary applications and/or modifications needed. Although this options calls for an encompassing knowledge base of how technology is being used in a particular place, or by a particular individual, it affords employees getting what they want while IT can keep track of how the technology is being utilized.

Steps for Implementing a School BYOD Program

According to Glicksman (2012), steps to implement a BYOD program in schools include:

  1. Clarifying the educational vision
    1. What should 21st century learning look like?
    2. What skills should students be taught?
  2. Decide whether BYOD is right for your school
    1. Do the students have their own devices?
    2. What about those that do not?
    3. How could a variety of devices be used?
  3. Invest in wireless infrastructure
    1. Does the school have enough bandwidth?
    2. Are there enough access points
  4. Create a virtual learning environment, such as Edmodo
  5. Minimize investment in servers, storage, and software by using free online "cloud" applications, such as Dropbox or Google Docs.
  6. Realize the importance of teacher training
    1. Encourage school culture to change by having teachers demonstrate and train
    2. Have school workshops at allocated times
    3. Have teachers attend technology conferences

Canadian Education Implementation

British Columbia

As stated in the British Columbia Education plan [1], currently all school districts in B.C. are in the first stages of BYOD implementation. Although opposed by the British Columbia Teacher's Federation due to it being " inconsistent with the founding principle of public education"[2], the plan is still being implemented in schools all across the province. Among British Columbia Universities, so far only the UBC Faculty of Medicine has also implemented it's own BYOD policy,[3].


Alberta's education ministry has put out a guide for all schools hoping to implement Bring Your Own Device functionality within their schools, [4], however they have yet to make it official policy which would apply to all schools. The 10 point plan for education, published by the Alberta Ministry of Education makes no mention any official Bring Your Own Device policy. The Alberta Teachers Association has made no comment on the implementation of BYOD.


Saskatchewan's Education Act [5] was introduced in 1995 and amended in 2012 has no entries regarding Bring Your Own Device functionality. The 2012 Education plan states that the province will "Continue to advance technolgical infastructure and further expand distance education and tele-learning opportunities", [6]. The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation [7] has made no comment regarding BYOD implementation, but the University of Saskatchewan has started offering classes on BYOD implementation [8][9]


Manitoba has not yet implemented a BYOD policy into their public educational framework, but John Finch the author of their Literacy with ICT Across the Curriculum,[10], and IT co-ordinator for Manitoba Education states that "21st-century students must develop multiple literacies that will allow them to respond to changing ideas, attitudes, and technologies as their communities and their world evolve" [11]. He also authored a pdf detailing BYOD use in the Council of School Leaders website detailing the steps to BYOD implementation, [12] so it appears that Manitoba is very close to implementing their own province wide Bring Your Own Device philosophy. Similarly, the University of Mantitoba's has unofficially embraced a Bring Your Own Device philosophy as "all teaching workshops are BYOD friendly" [13].


Ontario's ministry of education has not passed any blanket policy detailing the evolution and employment of Bring Your Own Device architecture into it's schools, [14]. However, various districts within the province are taking the initiative by implementing a variety of BYOD policies into their schools. Toronto and York, allow devices as per the teacher's discretion and Peel has instructed all schools to apply BYOD policy, [15]. Similarily, Ontario's Laurentian University in Sudbury has implemented a BYOD policy for all students, [16], Laurentian University BYOD video.


Although no official policy has been outlined in Quebec's education act,[17], (with the document being dated to February 1st, 2013), the language regarding district technology use and implementation suggests an expectation for school districts to act autonomously:"A school board may through workforce training, technical assistance to enterprises and informational activities, contribute to the development and realization of technological innovation projects, to the implementation and dissemination of new technology and to regional development." This reflects the interest in technology-based pedagogical reform at the heart of the new Quebec Educational Program introduced in 2001, [18]. Currently, the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers has made no comment [19] and Quebec universities have not adopted any official policy.


The Newfoundland School Act, [20], published in 1997, and amended in 2012, makes no direct reference to Bring Your Own Device implementation. Recently however, Tracy Goulding from the office of Information Protection and Policy Coordinator, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, [21], gave a lecture at Memorial University detailing the "promise and perils of BYOD". The Newfoundland and Labrador teacher's Association [22] has not taken a stance either way on the issue.

New Brunswick

The New Brunswick Education Act [23], published in 1997, and amended in 2012, makes no mention of any type of technology implementation within schools. Similarly, New Brunswick Universities and the New Brunswick Teachers Association,[24], have stated no position on the matter either. However, as stated by the 21st century guide for education published in 2010 by the New Brunswick Department of Education, [25]the "need to ensure our students are fully engaged in their learning; benefit from technology rich learning environments; and develop the competencies and skills they will need in the future" the province is moving towards a curriculum based on technological literacy/relevance.


Prince Edward Island

According to the P.E.I. school act [26] last amended in 2012, and the Prince Edward Island Department of education homepage [27], there is no mention of any plan for Bring Your Own Device implementation. Consequently, the PEI Teachers Federation [28] has made no comment either.

Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Education Act [29] published in 1993 and amended in 2010, the Nova Scotia Department of Education homepage [30] and the Nova Scotia Education Plan [31]make no mention of any Technology policy or Bring Your Own Device implementation. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union [32] has made no official comment.

Yukon Territory

Both the Yukon Education Reform Project currently half way through it's cycle (2010-2016),[33] and the Yukon Education Act [34] including 2013 reforms [35], make no mention of either technology or any plans for Bring Your Own Device implementation. As a result, the Yukon Teachers Association[36] has made no comment on BYOD policy.

Northwest Territories

According to the NWT Education Act [37] (published in 1996 and amended last in 2011), there is no mention of technology or planned implementation of Bring Your Own Device infastructure. However, in both the Strategy for Teacher Education in the NWT document and the Aboriginal Student Achievement plan there are statements about the "increased use of technology" [38] and a directive to "develop Literacy with Information and Communication Technology" [39]. The NWT Teachers Association [40] has published no official position on Bring Your Own Device implementation.

Nunavut Territory

Published in 2008, the Nunavut Education Act [41] makes no mention of technology or Bring Your Own Device implementation. As a result, the Nunavut Teachers Association [42] have published no official position on the implementation of Bring Your Own Device infastructure.


Ethics refers to rules or codes of conduct that have been approved by particular groups on the standards of social or professional behavior. If schools or school districts are to adopt a "Bring Your Own Device" program, the ethics behind the following items should be considered: Information Technology (computer ethics), financial considerations, medical concerns, digital literacy, and second language digital literacy.

Information Technology Ethics (Computer Ethics)

With an increase of devices in schools, students should be aware of Computer or Information Technology ethics. This includes such items as copyright issues, stealing information (audio files, movies, proprietary software, other students' work or computer information, etc.), and plagiarising off the Internet without giving credit to the original author (I-3 Ethics in Using Computer; Brown, R., Hurt, B., Williams, R., 2005). Students should also be aware that they will not use their devices to harm other students or people and that they need to protect their online identities and manage their passwords appropriately. As well, students should be guaranteed individual rights to privacy when using email, chats, and instant messaging.


Each student should have access to the same learning opportunities and materials. BYOD may allow for more affluent students to have an unfair advantage and create a digital divide among families and students(Alberta Education, 2012; Stager, G.S., 2011). Students that can afford better technology may gain a higher competency in their digital literacy skills. As well, "BYOD puts the onus of purchasing technology on students, which can be a challenge for low-income families"(Baluja, T., 2012). Is it fair for schools and districts to put this burden on struggling families?


Contrasting studies of the effects of WiFi networks on young people continue to be published. Although WiFi effects on children is largely untested, there are some that believe there is evidence that long-term chronic exposure to electromagnetic radiation has a range of health effects (wiredchild, 2013). Is it ethical for public institutions to expect children to operate in an exposed environment where the long term affects have yet to be determined? But according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which has studied the topic of electromagnetic radiation extensively, "In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionizing radiation approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Despite the feeling of some people that more research needs to be done, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research (2013)."

Digital Literacy

One of the learning outcomes of implementing BYOD is digital literacy. Without device standardization, BYOD may allow students with better and faster devices to have an advantage because their devices may provide students opportunities to obtain more in-depth data or to gain computer skills that other student's may not have access to. This could lead to a higher grasp of essential computer skills, knowledge, and understanding. Some brands of devices will have varying levels of functionality and different speeds of output and performance (Walsh, K. 2012). Students may have inconsistent experiences and different challenges from one student to the next and this may create a digital divide among students.

Students that transfer into school districts that have a BYOD program but have not previously been exposed to this program may not have the digital literacy skills as their counterpart classmates. Districts that implement this program should consider having entry level plans for these students to improve upon their digital literacy skills.

On the other hand, is it fair for schools not to allow students to use their own devices or to provide a BYOD infrastructure for students? Many students already use devices that are more powerful, up-to-date, and flexible than current classroom computers. As well, students are more familiar with their own devices and this could be a way to bridge the gap between formal and informal learning. By allowing students to use their own devices, it increases the opportunities for students to (as stated in Alberta Education, 2012, pp. 7):

  1. Engage in inquiry learning
  2. Communicate effectively with peers, experts and their teachers
  3. Personalize learning
  4. Demonstrate their learning through media of their choice
  5. Express their ideas in public forums
  6. Access libraries of digital content that provide multiple pathways to learning
  7. Pursue real-world issues and topics of deep interest
  8. Attain digital citizenship
  9. Provide equitable learning opportunities, especially for students with special needs
  10. Explore and construct ideas, opinions, arguments and evidence-based reasoning collaboratively

Second Language Digital Literacy

English Language Learners (ELL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) learners already have literacy obstacles to overcome before even touching a computer (Robertson, 2008). Is it fair to expect Second Language students to operate in a BYOD environment where they will have to improve two literacies instead of one? These students may have weak English literacy skills and most likely do not even know basic technological vocabulary words needed to operate computers or devices (Robertson, 2008). According to Meurant (2009), teachers have to recognize that ESL students will have digital literacy skills that need to be "identified, consciously taught, and intentionally facilitated in [Second Language Acquisition] (pg. 37). This will help ease the attainment of these skills by ESL students, especially in a BYOD environment.

Evaluating BYOD For Your Institution-Stop Motion Artifact

See Also

  1. BYOD Infographic
  2. Top 10 Tips for Managing Your BYOD
  3. BYOD – Risks and Rewards
  4. 10 Reasons to Consider BYOD in Education
  5. Bring Your Own Device: A Guide for Schools
  6. Building on the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) Revolution


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