Arguments against BYOD
In a budget-conscious world where education is being hit hard by deep cuts
and an ever-increasing societal push towards individual responsibility for even the most basic necessities of life, BYOD can appear very appealing to those who wish to make education funding a political agenda item. But a move towards even a limited BYOD policy, which allows some students to bring their own devices to school, has serious repercussions. Amongst all the objections, two stand out above the rest:
Social stratification among students
– One of the primary functions of schooling is to socialize students and there is immense pressure on them to conform to the dominant culture (Shanahan, 10 May, 2012
). In schools with an economically diverse student population differences in personal wealth are going to be strikingly evident based on the type of device that each student is able to bring. Beyond that, the example from the cfiello
video above presents a model in which individual students may be stigmatized by their inability to bring their own devices. Imagine an affluent school which draws a small portion of its students from a disadvantaged neighborhood. There is the potential for one or two students to be singled out by this policy on a daily basis.
Widening the digital divide between rich and poor schools – The other fundamental flaw in the idea of BYOD is evident at the school level. This problem stems from the economic issue of funding such a policy in schools that are situated in economically disadvantaged areas. In an area in which few or none of the students can afford to BYOD, the school is still reliant on state or federal funding to provide classroom technology (I don’t buy the “all students have smart phones” argument, having spent a good deal of time in the homes of students who don’t have enough food, clothing, or a mode of transportation, let alone an unlimited data plan). If BYOD becomes commonplace, it is easy to imagine a political push to mandate such a policy for all schools and further reduce technology funding to the schools that desperately need the support on the basis of the argument that “they bring their own devices, so we don’t have to fund them.” Ultimately a policy like this will create a broader digital divide as those with no home access will also be deprived of in school computer, Internet, and technology access. Digitally separate is not equal.