BYOD: Breaking the Traditional Mold in Education

July 3, 2012 - 4 Comments

My name is Tom Patton, and I am a student at the University of Oregon and a Cisco intern. Presently, I support Cisco’s Education Marketing Team. In this position, I have had the unique opportunity to observe a number of emerging trends in education, including Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

This blog describes my thoughts on the technological transformation made by the Katy Independent School District. Recently, the district implemented a BYOD program, an initiative that encourages vs. limits, technology in the classroom. The results have been jaw-dropping.

From the minute I wake up in the morning until I go to sleep at night, I am completely immersed in technology. Be it a phone, computer, television, tablet, or mp3 player, I consistently interact with my devices for the entire day. One device is now used for multiple purposes, and all of my devices are interconnected.  I am at the center of a vast web of technology. I rely on my smartphone to keep my calendar in order, stay on top of my email, search for information, set reminders, communicate with others for social or work-related purposes, and for a variety of other tasks. I use computers and tablets in much the same ways. This is how I stay organized, up-to-date, and informed. To some, this may sound ridiculous, but I am 100% reliant on these devices, and my success is directly related to my ability to use them.

After having spent two years in higher education, where it’s acceptable to use technology devices, it is now difficult for me not to use those tools. In class, I use my computer to take notes and record lectures in case I need to listen to them later on. On occasion, I download slideshows from previous classes to review information that is unclear. On the web, I can find word definitions, look up facts and figures for the discussion, or reference topical or class information on the school’s learning management system. Although the curriculum may not necessarily be integrated with the technology, simply having access to these tools allows students to be more engaged and more successful in class.

These ideas on technology are shared by the majority of members in the Millennial Generation. Like it or not, our generation needs these tools to be successful. Katy Independent School District (KISD) located outside of Houston, Texas, understands and has embraced this trend. After realizing that student engagement in their district was very low, KISD implemented a three-phase plan that would incorporate technology as a major component of teaching and learning in the district. The three main goals of the initiative were to introduce Web 2.0 products into the classroom, create an environment focused on digital citizenship, and pilot a program that would allow students to utilize their internet-enabled devices in school.

The district progressively increased the number of mobile devices in their teaching and learning model. After a number of years and multiple phases, KISD finalized their initiative and created a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) education model for the district. In this model, students are now allowed to use as many mobile devices as they would like in class, and the majority of their content is digital. Student engagement skyrocketed and test scores increased.

My generation is mobile and that is how we learn. At KISD, that is also how they teach.

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  1. BYOD usually brings to mind the enterprise. Veru interesting to see it being used in the context of education.

  2. Good to hear from those that are affected by these decisions

    • Could you please explain the concept of digital citizenship. It is a very intriguing concept.

      • Hi Kristin,

        Thank you for your comment!

        As you know, Katy ISD has created a digital society where students are encouraged to utilize their own technology devices at school. Digital Citizenship is a term that refers to students being appropriate, contributing and most importantly, responsible members of this society. BYOD is an initiative that gives students an immense amount of independence and freedom. For this reason, it is very important for students to understand how to responsibly use their devices in a way that positively contributes to their education as well as that of their peers.

        Please follow the ensuing link for more information on Katy ISD’s Digital Citizenship program:

        Tom Patton