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Top 10 BYOD concerns — and how to overcome them [Part 2]

In the last week's post I promised to address exactly 10 BYOD concerns that keep schools reluctant to allowing students to use their mobile devices in the classroom. But I only delivered five, so this post will address the other five.

I invite you to check them out again. However, here's a refresher of the previous post and the five BYOD concerns that are already put on the table:

  1. BYOD deepens the digital divide;
  2. BYOD will distract students;
  3. BYOD encourages students to cheat;
  4. Students might forget to bring/charge their devices;
  5. Parents may need to pay more for BYOD.

Now I'll move on to the next BYOD concerns:

Top 10 BYOD concerns [Part 2]:

6. BYOD can lead to network overload

This concern belongs to school managers, obviously, and it happens far more often than expected. The thing is, many schools don't have strong wireless networks, and the ones they do have were designed mostly with teachers' needs in mind. Years ago, when the internet spread across schools, few people even considered the possibility that the then-new network will someday be accessed by hundreds of students at the same time.

The solution to this issue is to invest in an IT architect (or team) that will be able to design the school wireless network in a way that not only responds to the needs of bandwidth, but is also scalable. This way, all students will be able to access the internet at school, and have a great user experience when doing so.

7. BYOD will need an increased tech support

With so many types of devices and so many configurations to each type, it's impossible for the tech support team to keep track of everything. Plus, some kids — knowingly or not — might contact support on some issues that the school isn't responsible to deal with. The devices that belong to kids and their families should be mended, repaired or replaced at the costs of the owners, not the school's.

The best way to avoid confusion and to make sure the school support team only deals with appropriate issues is to clearly state in the BYOD policy (that everyone needs to sign) what the support team is responsible for and what they are not. Also, schools should make sure that this BYOD policy is easily available for anyone, and that some simple issues can be solved through also easily available documentation.

8. BYOD will raise more security issues

Students with popular devices might have them stolen, or worse, destroyed. Remember the social status symbol mentioned in the digital divide section? Well, things don't go necessarily well for wealthy kids either. More to that, any student — and even any teacher — can infest school devices with all sorts of malware and viruses. And what if kids find a loop in the system and can access websites with inappropriate content? Schools can't possibly control all the Internet!

Ok, theses are more than one concern, but they all belong to the security category. Everything depicted above can happen and can lead to serious damages. But schools have more than one way to avoid all of these issues.

The IT staff can design a secure internet connection that will automatically restrict access to unwanted websites. What's more, schools need to encourage students to report any malicious use and flag any website with inappropriate content, which will be blacklisted. Also, strong firewalls can detect most viruses and reject the USB memory sticks these usually come on. As for device theft, only authorized personnel should handle school devices, and students should be taught about being less absent-minded and more careful with the phones and tablets they bring in the classroom.

9. Some teachers might be reluctant to technology

The decision taken by a school's board members to adopt BYOD means nothing if it's not embraced and implemented by the teachers in that school. There are many reasons behind some educators' reluctance to using technology in their classroom instruction, such as a lack of understanding of its benefits, a fear of the unknown, or simply having a traditional approach to education.

But schools can overcome these issues and support all their students in experiencing a modern learning experience in the classroom. Just like teachers teach students, so should schools teach teachers on the benefits of using tech devices in class. Various training programs are available, and the teachers that are excited about BYOD can spread their enthusiasm to others by showing what they do, how they do it, and what results they see.

10. BYOD comes with health risks for students

Mobile devices are great at opening up endless communication and learning possibilities. But they can also come with hidden costs in term of health. Doctors witness new, real physical conditions caused by the extended use of mobile devices, like text neck, or smartphone pinky, and not to mention FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), which is a psychological condition quite common among teenagers.

Sometimes, a smartphone seems like a natural extension to kids' hands. No wonder that parents are concerned that their children could develop one or more of the above conditions. And by allowing the use of mobile devices in the classroom, schools don't seem to help this situation at all.

But the use of mobile devices in class doesn't come without limitations. No teacher will allow students to constantly be with their eyes in the screen. All class activities involve some face-to-face collaboration with peers and the teacher, taking notes, moving around, and plenty of time that doesn't require students to keep their eyes on a screen for a long period of time.

Parents should also monitor how much time their children use tech devices outside school. Again, communication between schools and parents is critical to establishing a healthy rapport between screen-time for learning, screen-time for leisure, and no screen-time for kids.

And so ends the mighty list of 10 BYOD concerns and some corresponding suggestions on how to overcome each of them. Have something to add to this list? Please share your input in the comments section.

NEO Brochure: How to overcome the challenges related to using BYOD in schools

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