Should the school provide it or should the student bring it? It’s the latest debate rocketing to the top of SMT agendas in schools across the country. But in principle is this really something new? Or, if you were to swap the ‘D’ in BYOD to mean ‘dinner’, are we just revisiting the age old debate of packed lunches versus school meals? If we study the arguments for and against closely, the parallels are uncanny!
“I like ham sandwiches and I’ll eat ham sandwiches.”
There’s a strong argument to say that if students are familiar with something they will be more likely to consume it. If they’re glued to their own personal tablet at home, have the apps configured to their liking and the background set to their favourite selfie, they’re going to be more engaged and responsive when using the device in class. A fussy eater’s never going to be as receptive to ‘chef’s special’ as they are to sandwiches the way mum makes them.
“But how do we know the students are getting their five a day and not gorging on junk?”
There is a flipside to bringing the outside in. What are those students that spend their leisure time glued to a tablet actually doing on the device? Chatting to friends, playing games, streaming status updates, or something more sinister? Once you bring the medium for this behaviour through the school gates, are you simply introducing a 1:1 distraction for every student and losing control of the digital classroom? Classroom management becomes much more difficult when there are a multitude of different devices, programmes and access rights to deal with. School dinners allow you to influence and monitor what students are eating to ensure their health is not at risk and that they’re energised with the right nutrients to stay productive throughout the day.
“My mum makes sure I have an exciting lunch to look forward to each day.”
BYOD enables schools to keep up with trends in technology, as students of the digital age race to upgrade to the latest gadgetry as soon as it is released. Signing off new hardware investment in schools can take time and will often require a strong business case. However, getting an early birthday present from mum and dad usually requires far less persuasion. With a packed lunch, students know their food is fresh, varied and suitable for their palate.
“Your One Direction lunchbox is soooo last season.”
The downside to individuals being responsible for their own technology is the competitive element that is introduced. Mobile devices can become a status symbol for students, dividing those that ‘have’ from those that ‘don’t have’. There’s also added pressure on students and student’s parents to keep up with the latest devices (when often they can’t afford to), in order to avoid ridicule from peers. What was once cool, very quickly becomes uncool in the harsh, judgmental confines of the school playground. Anyone remember when Dairylea Triangles were a lunchbox must have?
“If I get hungry throughout the day I can dip in to my lunchbox.”
BYOD gives students limitless access to information and resources throughout the school day on a 1:1 basis. This assists with information gathering and research tasks across every lesson, giving students a responsibility for their own learning. When they get that distracting 11am hunger pang, students with a packed lunch can retrieve an apple or bag of nuts to keep them going and keep them focused.
“Munch, munch, munch, rustle, rustle rustle - snacking throughout the day can be really distracting.”
It’s not always appropriate for students to have access to a mobile device in the learning environment and if personal devices cannot be controlled or locked down, certain activities become impossible. Creating digital exam conditions, testing student creativity and initiative, or carrying out practical experiments can all be hindered by the presence of a mobile device. As well as being distracting, snacking in-between meals can sometimes spoil an appetite.
“Dinner ladies, cooks, kitchens – supporting school dinners can be a huge drain on school resources.”
BYOD is a cost-effective way for schools to save money on hardware and hardware maintenance. At a time when finances are still under strain, it’s more important than ever to squeeze every last ounce of value out of school budgets. Think of the savings to a school’s catering budget if everyone prepared their own meals and made complaints or dietary requirements a problem for mum to deal with!
“But we’d still need dinner ladies to manage the lunch hour and schools meals present great value.”
Many will argue that BYOD isn’t actually a money saver when you consider the increased measures required to monitor and manage these devices effectively. BYOD may be an economical way to acquire hardware, but what about the additional cost associated with increased network capacity, teacher training, software installation, and managing lost, stolen, or damaged student property? With manufacturers now making mobile devices so affordable, it’s no wonder many schools are backtracking on BYOD in favour of supporting their own, fully controllable 1:1 model.
“So is BYOD viable or should we join the queue in the canteen?”
Packed lunches and schools dinners have been co-existing in harmony for a number of decades now, and there’s a thing or two BYOD could learn from this. In recent years, schools with concern over the lack of control afforded by the lunchbox have introduced measures to monitor packed lunch content and usage, to ensure all students receive a balanced and fulfilling diet during the school day.
Ofsted recommends that schools 'consider easy ways of monitoring food choices' and introduce measures to ensure the healthy-eating regimes they introduce are not 'undermined when pupils bring in unhealthy packed lunches'.
The same advice can be applied to technology, so here are Impero’s Top Tips for Schools looking to implement a BYOD initiative:
Make Network Access Control (NAC) compulsory so that computer usage policies and management software can be enforced.
Create your own Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and make sure your staff are trained and supported to enforce it.
Create minimum specifications for devices permitted on the network defining software requirements, internet security and antivirus protection.
Ensure students sign an End User Agreement (EUA) allowing devices to be monitored by third party monitoring software.
Prohibit personal WiFi or mobile broadband so that students cannot circumnavigate the network.
For more information on the real-time monitoring and management of mobile devices visit www.imperosoftware.co.uk. Impero is a key ingredient in any remote monitoring or management strategy and is committed to serving the perfect meal. To put that into context, imagine a world where you know what every student is eating, any time, any portion, anywhere - now there’s food for thought.