Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

6 Steps to Building a Successful BYOD Program

6 Steps to Building a Successful BYOD Program

By Emily Burgess

less prep time, assessmentsBYOD has expanded rapidly in education in the last few years. In 2013, 22 percent of districts implemented a BYOD program, and in 2014, that number rose to 56 percent, according to THE Journal.

A whopping 84 percent of those programs are in high schools and 74 percent are found in middle schools.

A successful school-wide BYOD program doesn’t just happen. And, because it requires the help of many different people, failing to gain the support of the community—which is easy to do when you’re knee-deep in plans and budgets—including teachers, parents, administrators and students can seriously hinder the process and success of the program.

To avoid any major mishaps, and make your school’s BYOD program a success, don’t miss any of these essential steps.

Engage the School Community

Your first step should be educating the community about the benefits of BYOD for your school. You can use surveys, questionnaires and polls to gather key information such as average household income, number of students who already own a device or the degree of parental support for this type of initiative. Some of this information you may already have.

Don’t forget to ask about family and staff fears and concerns with implementing the program; to get everyone on board, you have to hear from all of them.

Educate the school community by holding presentations about the plans. Community members can ask questions and express their opinion. Equipped with this type of information, you’re far more likely to get the support you need to successfully implement a BYOD program.

Build a Team

When developing your BYOD team, look to tech specialists within the school community who have previously supported similar projects. They should be able to help plan and implement the process, hold professional development sessions, and troubleshoot your technologies. You also need to involve people who can monitor how the technologies are being used in the classroom and guide professional development.

Naturally, teachers and students should be involved from start to finish as well; they’ll be the ones to test and perfect the use of these technologies in the classroom. As part of your team, teachers and small groups of students can provide you with critical feedback about the implementation process.

Create an Infrastructure

Check with local vendors to determine the best set-up for your program, considering the existing infrastructure and projected budget. Since you’ll be opening the school’s network to a large surge of new users, you need to know whether it will be able to handle that traffic and if the bandwidth allows for processing multimedia apps.

You also need to consider security, especially in terms of student privacy. Compliance with Children’s Internet Protection Act is important, so be sure to educate yourself on how the network will be protected against threats, how students’ information will be kept secure and what tools you’ll use to monitor network usage.

Establish a Clear Use Policy

You need to develop a policy that delineates when and where devices are to be used, along with regulations for messaging and social networking. Once the policy is created, send copies home to parents and require all students and teachers to sign, showing they’ve read and understand the policies. Don’t forget to establish different consequences for those who don’t follow this policy depending on the severity of the violation.

Choose Your Device(s)

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Consider mobile devices first because they’re easy to use anytime and anywhere and often very accessible for an affordable price.

Remember that not all students have their own device and you need to be able to provide them with one if you plan to build out a school-wide BYOD program.

You could purchase or lease devices and loan them out to students to manage this potential road block. If you’re looking to buy devices, consider programs like Donor’s Choose or apply for grants.

Integrate It Into Your Curriculum

The technology is there to support your curriculum, not the other way around, and to be effective, teachers need it built into the curriculum, enabling them to make the most of their tech time. Provide teachers with support materials and course companion websites at the start, and as the school year goes on.

BYOD programs offer immense education benefits and can be worth the investment for most schools. Use these tips to ensure a smooth and effective implementation.

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