Monday, 20 January 2014

I'm being stalked...

It happens every day. I am being stalked by the phrase BYOD: Bring your Own Device. There are emails, promotional leaflets, marketing merchandise, phone calls… in fact I’ve just received another one asking if my school has ‘…joined the BYOD movement yet?’

I’ve spent over 15 years working on projects that have aimed to place powerful computing devices in the hands of pupils for them to use as tools to maximise their learning and achievement. That’s from the first strains of Microsoft’s Martini Learning in 1998 to a 2000 device roll-out in two Academies in East Sussex.

Those years have given me plenty of time to think not only about the practicalities of such schemes, but also the ethics of such initiatives. I’ve outlined some moral principles below which need to be considered before a school launches such a scheme. These principles may conflict and there’s no guarantee that you and school project teams won’t have differing perspectives on them.

Does the potential good of the scheme outweigh the negatives?
To think about: do BYOD programmes achieve the benefits for learning , achievement and development that are claimed for them? And what do we need to do to ensure that they do

Does a student’s right to bring their device infringe the rights of others for whom it has consequences?
To think about: how can the student’s right not to ‘power down’ their use of ICT whilst at school not infringe a teacher’s right to direct to what takes place in their classrooms?

Is the scheme you are considering fair and does it promote equality?
To think about: what are you going to do enable all students to participate? Subsidise? Hardship grants? Provide school loan devices?

How does the scheme promote your responsibility to care for your students?
To think about: does your scheme increase the vulnerability of your students to physical threat, cyber-bullying and how can you guard against those issues?

How can your scheme promote positive virtues?
To think about: how can your BYOD programme encourage the right sort of behaviour from students?

Trying to turn back time and tide – imagine a Cher-lookalike playing King Canute – is not an option… but we need to ensure that we are engaging with these ethical issues as well as the practical ones that must be resolved before we  ‘…join the BYOD movement…’

This blog was derived from a presentation made at the Edexec Live: ICT Matters conference in November 2013

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