Confronting BYOT Apprehension


Recently, a post by Lisa Nielsen on “The Innovative Educator” became the focus of a weekly #BYOTchat on Twitter.  Her post focused on confronting educator BYOD/BYOT fears.  At the end of this post are some of the Twitter responses, via Storify, to each of the topics she featured.

First, let’s take a closer look at the main topics she covered:

  • Data collection / privacy
  • Devices being a distraction / Student engagement
  • Devices replacing personal interaction
  • Discipline
  • Theft
  • Bullying
  • Equity (Digital Divide)

Data Collection and Privacy

Most students probably don’t think about their data being collected or consider privacy when using their own device or even a school-owned device or account.   Through BYOT, this students can learn an important lesson about their personal information and how to protect it, regardless of the device they use or where they are!

So, what should students know?

  • Google Apps Accounts
    • The account doesn’t belong to them and the contents can be accessed by district administrators, if needed.
  • Protect your privacy!
    • When signing up for a service, think about the information they’re asking for before giving it.
    • Never share a password
    • Don’t volunteer personal information like your phone number, address, birthday, etc
    • Log off of your account on shared computers
  • Social Networks
    • Don’t engage in chats with people you don’t know face-to-face
    • Check your settings before posting – don’t post to the whole wide world!
    • Anything you post from text and images to video and audio can be taken, modified and re-posted.
  • Respect the privacy of others
    • Never post a picture of someone else without their permission
    • Don’t tag someone else in a photo without their permission
  • Teacher / Parent Resources


Distraction / Student Engagement

I had to smile when I read that students devices can be “weapons of mass distraction” in the classroom.  Although it can be true and it is a legitimate fear of many teachers, the same devices that can wreak havoc can also be used productively and to engage students.   It boils down to two main ideas:

  • Updated classroom management techniques

    • Have your expectations and guidelines for device use been clearly defined and communicated to students?
      • Were your students part of the process in developing the expectations?  This engenders ownership!
      • Are these expectations and guidelines continually communicated and practiced?
    • Do students know when they should and should not have their devices out?
      • How is this communicated in class?  Is there a signal?
    • Have you considered your classroom configuration and grouping of students when devices are used?
    • How will you address misbehavior, other than taking away devices?  Remember – westudent distractiondon’t take away paper and pencils for passing notes!
    • Have you developed a positive learning community in your classroom?
  • Planning for learning with devices

    • How do you envision students using their devices?
      • Don’t assume that students know how to use their devices for learning!
    • How are you going to plan for students who do not have devices?
    • Have you clearly defined the product / end result that you expect when students use their devices?
      • The more clearly defined, the more focused students will be because they are being held accountable.
    • Do your students have a choice in the product they produce or the method by which is is produced?
    • Have you provided opportunities for students to communicate and collaborate with each other?
    • Are you using a variety of instructional strategies with the devices to keep students engaged?
    • How can you capitalize on student devices during whole group instruction?
      • Backchannels – Padlet, Edmodo, Socrative
      • Formative Assessment – Socrative, Infuse Learning
    • What are your plans for students who finish early?
    • Are you modeling a desire to learn through your willingness to learn with and from your students?



Bring Cyberbullying out into the open!!  When devices are used under guidance and supervision, they’re less likely to be misused.   Address digital citizenship and responsible use!

Replacing Personal Interaction


Student devices can facilitate personal interaction, communication, and collaboration both inside the classroom and beyond given well-planned lessons. These devices are also invaluable resources for supporting learning.  Facilitate student interaction by using polls (PollEverywhere) and Padlet to capture student thoughts and reactions.  Set up a Google spreadsheet where every student is assigned a cell (or group of) to provide their thoughts.  Provide opportunities for students to collaborate on shared documents, provide feedback to peers, which can stimulate conversations.


Discipline Issues

Students are always going to break the rules.  That’s a given.  However, when student devices go from being viewed as contraband to carefully integrated under guidelines and expectations, the number of incidents involving devices has been shown to decrease in schools that have adopted BYOT.

Lost or Stolen Devices

A BYOT Tour in Forsyth county ended with a Q&A sessions with a panel of administrators, teachers, parents and students.  One of the parents on the panel was asked about loss and theft of devices.  She reported that prior to BYOT, her daughter could never find her device.  Now that she needs it for school, she has kept far better track of it.  Overall, when devices are brought out into the open and used under supervision, districts have reported theft and loss becoming less of an issue.


BYOD Deepens The Digital Divide

digital divide

Equity is a concern.  What do you do about students who don’t have devices?  However, this divide exists whether students bring devices to school or not.  Do we keep a class of students from using a set of 15 iPads because there isn’t one for each child?  Of course not!

What we do is find ways for these devices to be used equitably.  Whether that means centers, small group rotations or pairing students, we find ways of making what is available work.   In fact, existing classroom technology has been reported to be used more often now that student-owned devices are supplementing what is available. If we wait and wait for equity, then we’re doing our students a great disservice by denying them the opportunity to use the technology tools that are available in meaningful ways.


Storify- #BYOT Twitter Chat from January 15th, 2015