Choose Your Own Device Program?

Most people who are involved with education have heard of 1:1 programs, where each staff member and student receives a school-issued laptop, and some have probably heard of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) programs, where students are encouraged (or expected, in some schools) to bring their own device to be used in class.

I recently saw a presentation by staff members from the Ottawa Carleton School District in Canada, where they presented an innovative “Choose Your Own Device” (CYOD) program.  The OCSD began to visualize their CYOD program (acronym explosion; sorry!) in response to addressing their outdated technology infrastructure in 2011, and have now begun implementing their new program.  Their program is sort of a hybrid of a BYOD device and a 1:1 program, and includes the following components:

  • students can bring any device from home for use in school, from smart phones to tablets to laptops
  • each classroom in the district is provided with a classroom set of devices (say, 5 devices per room), with teachers making the decision about what device type(s) they need.  An elementary room might have 5 iPads, for instance, while a high school science room might have 3 Chromebooks, 1 Windows laptop, and 1 iPad.
  • mobile carts (with full-class sets of particular devices, like Chromebooks) are available throughout the district, but not at a 1:1 ratio with students.

CYODThe OCSD envisions this approach as satisfying needs for individualized education, appropriateness for multiple learning types and styles, and creating a flexibility that better fits the diverse needs throughout the school and even within a particular classroom.  Further, I really liked the fact that the stated goal of developing this plan was not to develop a technology plan, but rather to develop a learning plan that is accompanied by an appropriate technology framework.

There are strengths and weaknesses to this approach, compared to a more traditional technology implementation with computer labs and mobile carts (which we currently have at ADM), a 1:1 program, or a BYOD program.  This approach is less costly than most 1:1 programs would be, and is potentially less costly than a traditional approach as well.  That said, there is still a heavy reliance on families to provide devices for students, which has always been a concern within BYOD programs.  Further, while multiple devices for multiple applications are great – I’m sure that a number of you reading this regularly switch between a laptop, a tablet, and a desktop computer, for instance, depending upon what you’re trying to accomplish – it does add a level of complexity in use and instruction, by reducing the consistency of user experience and available applications.

While we’re only at the beginning phases of planning for our next generation technology implementation at ADM, these ideas will be interesting to consider as we move forward.  Along these lines, I could envision another hybrid of CYOD – one used by a number of companies providing devices for employees – where ADM staff and/or students could be given the opportunity to select from a predefined list of devices.  A staff member who is due to receive a new computer, for instance, might have the option of choosing between a MacBook, a Windows convertible laptop, or a Chromebook, depending upon their usage needs and platform preferences.  As I said, it will be interesting to see whether we incorporate some elements of this approach in ours.

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2 Responses to Choose Your Own Device Program?

  1. Mark says:

    Very interesting. I am assuming OCSD is cloud-based. We currently maintain a strict separation between district and personal devices – each is on their own network. The thought of student-owned machines riddled with viruses and hacking tools with access to our file servers is a chilling one.

    • ajkurth says:

      Good point, Mark. They are a Google Apps for Education district, as are we. To me, a crucial aspect of any form of BYOD must include a segregated guest wireless network, which is how we currently handle student and staff personal devices and guest devices. Of course, this creates complexity if you want them to access any on-premises services, like file servers, print services, etc. Easier if everything for students is in the cloud.

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