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Why "Bring Your Own Device" is the Next Step in Education Technology

10.21.2013
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In the past several years, technology has undergone many innovations that have become so pervasive in our lives; they have influenced education like never before. As more sophisticated gadgets are used in classrooms, many educators are wondering if they will become part of the curriculum. Computers, cell phones, and the Internet are certainly a part of students' lives, with most of them online interacting with their friends and surfing the Web. The phrase "bring your own device" looks to be the next step in education technology.

Technology in classrooms

Technology in education is not new. Teachers have long been using devices like projectors to teach lessons, along with videos, calculators, and the like and now even have the option to earn an educational technology degree. From the mid 1990s and onward, personal computers became more widely used in homes and schools, with many seeing the potential to change education. Online programs were introduced and are now used in high schools and colleges around the country. With better designs and sleeker, smaller models, almost every student uses a cell phone or personal computer and many bring them to class. While some see it as an interference and in some ways it can be, others see it as a new resource that can be used in education for the 21st century.

It is common in colleges and universities for students to bring their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones where they can access the Web, download course materials, and look up information for classes. Professors welcome it and depending on the course, come to expect devices as a vital resource for completing work. Now, these gadgets are making their way into high schools and even some elementary schools. Usually, teachers and administrators are turned off by the thought of devices in their classrooms, concerned that it will lead to distraction and interfere with learning. While that is a valid issue for educators, there are many who see it as a potential asset. Technology can help students stay motivated and engaged with the material, using interactive features like videos and podcasts to access lessons.

Teachers interacting with students online

Along with devices is software and applications that are utilized in classrooms. With companies offering new innovations, there are many different features to choose from. Teachers can customize lesson plans to their liking and change how a classroom works. It enables them to better monitor student progress and pinpoint their struggles. They can collect and give feedback on homework, conduct test and quizzes, and assign work to students all online. An increasing amount of schools are seeing the potential it has an embracing the philosophy of "bring your own device" in classrooms.

Of course, there is the question of effectiveness in learning and if using devices in classrooms can make a tangible difference in grades. This concept is still new and understandably, is met with skepticism and doubt. As with any new idea in education, it will take time to tell if this trend will become reality in schools across the nation. Still, "bring your own device" is gaining traction as students readily embrace using the gadgets they love to engage in lesson plans, interact with the material, and communicate on a new level with their teachers. With any new philosophy, there are kinks to be worked out and school systems will need to adapt it for their own needs. But technology is changing the classroom and revolutionizing learning. This is the next step in education technology.

Published at DZone with permission of Paul Andrews, author and DZone MVB.

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

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