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Implementing “Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)” in Primary and Secondary Schools

 

1. Introduction

 

The Education Bureau (EDB) has launched the Fourth Strategy on Information Technology in Education in the 2015/16 school year for using IT to enhance the effectiveness of learning and teaching, classroom interaction as well as students’ ability in self-directed learning, problem-solving and collaboration. One of the key measures is to establish WiFi campus for all public sector schools to facilitate e-learning using mobile computer devices. Relevant works have been basically completed in the 2017/18 school year.

 

Schools have been positive towards implementing e-learning and tired out various strategies to further exploit the advantages of using mobile computer devices in learning and teaching. Currently, a number of schools are implementing "Bring Your Own Device" (BYOD) policy for allowing students to bring their own mobile computer devices to schools for learning activities, so that learning has become more personalized and mobile.

 

 

2. Advantages of BYOD

 

There are many advantages of allowing students to bring their own mobile computer devices for learning in schools:

 

    • Schools can reduce preparation workload for conducting e-learning in the class, e.g. there is no need to arrange distribution of mobile devices to students.
    • Students can conveniently use their own mobile devices for self-directed learning as well as collaborative learning with their peers both inside and outside the classroom.
    • Students can install their own learning resources (e.g. e-textbook) and applications needed in their devices for their learning. As they are familiar with their own devices, they can use the devices effectively for learning.
    • Schools can manage the learning materials, delivery/collection of assignments and record students’ learning data, etc. by using a Learning Management System (LMS), teachers can understand students’ overall learning progress more easily.

 

With the advancement of mobile technology, enhancement of the functionality of mobile devices with decreasing price, richer availability of online e-learning resources and the development of versatile LMS, BYOD is becoming more popular in schools.

 

 

3. Considerations of Implementing BYOD

 

Thorough planning is important to the successful implementation of BYOD. Schools can evaluate their readiness in the following areas:

 

    • Schools’ WiFi Infrastructure
      Schools’ WiFi network should be sufficient for covering the campus especially classrooms. Besides, schools should also consider how to handle the issues of battery charging and storage of students’ mobile computer devices in schools.

 

    • Curriculum planning and teachers’ readiness
      BYOD is not merely an administrative arrangement. It is implemented based on students’ e-learning needs, involving student-centred learning and pedagogies. Thus, schools should first have set objectives for e-learning and planned how mobile computer devices and e-learning resources can be suitably used in different teaching unit for enhancing students’ motivation and learning effectiveness. At the same time, schools should arrange trainings for teachers to acquire the relevant teaching and classroom management skills so that they can practise e-teaching effectively for achieving positive outcomes from BYOD.

 

    • Students
      Competency in using IT is an important 21st century skill. Schools should strive hard to enhance students’ information literacy and develop their relevant knowledge, skills and attitude so that they can use IT effectively and responsibly in learning. Schools should establish an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP), listing out acceptable and unacceptable acts, in order to govern students’ use of mobile computer device, wireless network and information.

 

    • Parents
      Parents’ engagement and support are crucial to the implementation of BYOD. Schools should strengthen communication and collaboration with parents by organising seminars on BYOD to enhance parents’ understanding on e-learning, including handling students’ discipline problems, so that they can collaborate with schools to help students to learn with the mobile computer devices.

 

Schools can refer to paragraph 7 for schools’ examples of effective planning and implementing BYOD.

 

 

4. Approaches for Implementation of BYOD

 

Before implementing BYOD, schools should decide if students need to use specified types of mobile computer devices. Generally, schools may consider the following three approaches:

 

(i) Choosing a specific brand/model of mobile computer device
(ii) Choosing specific technical specifications (e.g. Operating Systems, storage capacity)
(iii) No regulated specifications. Students/parents can freely choose any brand/model of mobile computer device

 

The advantages and disadvantages of the above three approaches are as follows:

 

(i) Choosing a specific brand/model of mobile computer device

 

  Advantages:
 
  • Students use the same specifications and functions that are fully compatible with the school network and Mobile Device Management (MDM) System.
  • Teachers can master how to use the device in planning and teaching easily.
  • It will be more easily to solve students’ technical problems.
 
Disadvantages:
 
  • Parents/students need to purchase a new device if they had acquired a device of different brand/model.
  • Schools should be careful in considering the justifications of choosing a specific brand/model. Schools may take extra steps to gain supports from stakeholders on their decisions.

 

(ii) Choosing specific technical specifications of mobile computer device

 

  Advantages:
 
  • Parents/students will have more flexibility to choose a suitable mobile computer device. If they have a device that meets the required technical specifications, they need not purchase a new device.
  • It helps parents/students to choose a suitable device compatible with the schools’ MDM system and meeting the learning needs.
 
Disadvantages:
 
  • Teachers and technical staff may need to conduct testing for ensuring that the applications used by their schools can run on devices of different brands/models.
  • It is more difficult for teachers and technical staff to support students’ devices of different brands/models.

 

(iii) No regulated specifications. Students/parents can freely choose the mobile computer device

 

  Advantages:
 
  • Parents/students can have great flexibility to choose the mobile computer device.
 
Disadvantages:
 
  • e-learning resources that can be used with different Operating Systems and technical specifications are relatively limited.
  • Mobile computer devices of individual students may not be compatible with the schools’ MDM system.
  • It will be very difficult for schools to support students’ mobile computer devices of different technical specifications.

 

Schools can determine the specifications of the mobile computer devices according to their pedagogical design, use of e-learning resources, students’ learning needs as well as parents’ affordability, and decide an approach to be adopted for implementing BYOD based on schools’ context and the products available in the market. During the process of decision making, schools should communicate with stakeholders, including parents, so that they can have a better understanding of the rationale and supported schools’ decision.

 

 

5. Technical Specifications of Mobile Computer Device and MDM

 

We understand that many schools have adopted the second approach mentioned above for the implementation of BYOD. Schools should clearly list out the minimum hardware and software specifications for parents’ reference, it includes the followings:

 

    • Operating Systems
    • Hardware specifications (e.g. processor power, screen size, memory size, storage capacity, battery capacity, etc.)
    • Software and applications
    • Basic accessories e.g.
      • Screen shield
      • Protective cover
      • Stylus pen
      • Mouse
      • Detachable keyboard

 

Please refer to paragraph 7 for examples of technical specifications of mobile computer devices.

 

Many schools install a MDM in students’ device so that teachers and technical staff can manage the mobile devices connected to the schools’ network for security purposes. Applications as well as learning and teaching materials can be also deployed efficiently to students’ devices with the use of MDM system. Besides, schools can understand how their students are using their mobile computer devices.

 

Schools should provide clear information and supports for parents to acquire a suitable mobile computer device. School can also consider arranging a bulk purchase for parents and providing special supports for needy families.

 

 

6. Supports from Education Bureau

 

To facilitate schools’ implementation of BYOD policy, EDB has been providing holistic supports through professional development programmes and on-site support services on BYOD. We will also share examples to schools for reference for the implementation of BYOD effectively. A Technical Support Team has been set up to handle enquiries on technical issues. Schools can call 3698 4148 or 3698 3608 for requesting such services. Parent education, seminars and videos are provided to cultivate children’s good habits and attitude in using information and IT in daily life. We also produce information kit for students to provide them tips in using electronic products healthy and develop their information literacy.

 

As the development of BYOD may create financial burden on students from low-income families, the Community Care Fund has launched an Assistance Programme, starting from the 2018/19 school year for three years, to subsidise needy primary and secondary students studying in public sector schools with BYOD policy to purchase mobile computer devices. For details, please visit the related website for reference.

 

 

7. External Links and References

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last revision date: 28 February 2018
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