Looking at BYO From Both Sides

Educators continue to weigh in on the pros and cons of student-owned technology.

In recent months, K-12 Computing Blueprint has been covering — through tools as well as reader polls — the controversy and excitement surrounding “bring your own” (BYO) technology programs. Those who are fans of this burgeoning trend will be pleased to view a video at the web site of Forsyth County Schools in Georgia showing K-12 students enthusiastically using a wide variety of digital tools, both school and student-owned, ranging in size from Gameboys and smartphones to full-sized laptops and desktops, throughout the school day.

But BYOT is not without its critics. With 62% of those polled at this web site saying that BYO offers real advantages that go beyond cost-savings, 29% saying it’s a necessary evil “because it’s the only way we can afford 1:1 right now,” and just under 10% saying they are opposed to BYO under any circumstances, opinion is clearly mixed.

Recent columns at Tech & Learning’s School CIO web site span the spectrum as well. Jen LaMaster, director of faculty development at Brebeuf Jesuit Prep School in Indianapolis, offers tips based on her school’s new BYOT program, saying “We're just sowing seeds at Brebeuf this year. I look forward to watching Bring Your Own Technology programs grow and develop over time.”

On the other hand, another School CIO advisor, Stephen Baule, superintendent of North Boone CUSD 200 in Poplar Grove, IL, wrote an opinion piece cautioning districts to avoid leaping into the BYOT arena without giving careful thought to equity issues.

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