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itslearning supports students and teachers using their own devices

 

Kristine Sevik, senior advisor at the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, and Lars-Jacob Hove, head of product management at itslearning, explain the consequences of a newly-released BYOD report for education in general and itslearning users, respectively.

The days of students saying ‘the dog ate my homework’ will soon be over.

The bring your own device (BYOD) trend currently sweeping schools in Norway and abroad means that more students will soon have 24/7 access to education materials on itslearning on their personal devices.

Students expect to use multiple devices

Kristine Sevik, senior advisor at the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, says BYOD, which refers to teachers and students using their own devices instead of school-issued devices, means that students will never have to transfer homework between personal and school devices.

“Today´s students expect to be able to use whatever tool they want at school. Sometimes they want to be able to solve the same task using four devices,” Sevik says. “If students are given the choice, they will want to use their own device, because that is the one they have chosen.”

This fall, five Norwegian counties will implement BYOD in their schools, an increase of two counties during the 2012/2013 school year, according to the report Kartlegging av Skolens Forhold til ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (Mapping schools´ relationship to ‘Bring Your Own Device’) recently released by the Norwegian Centre for ICT in Education, a government body tasked with advising school managers on good ICT practice.

The report, which outlines key issues relating to BYOD from the Norwegian counties´ perspectives and how schools can implement the scheme, has kicked off a discussion among Norwegian counties about implementing BYOD in more Norwegian secondary schools. It was released in May as itslearning moves forward with its responsive design approach, which ensures that the presentation of itslearning adapts to all devices.

“Students are using powerful computers in their spare time. Many of them get frustrated with school computers that are often slow and run bad software. A lot of students prefer using their own devices with programs they are used to,” Sevik says.

Presentation of itslearning adapted to all devices

Lars-Jacob Hove, head of product management at itslearning, says an increasing number of teachers and students will be accessing itslearning through their mobile phones or tablets in the coming years.

“Our users are moving from using school-issued devices to a wide range of devices, from ultra portable devices with small screens and low resolutions to high-resolution, touch-enabled TV sets,” Hove says. “We are seeing a move towards more mobility in education. Both teachers and students will be accessing itslearning through their mobile phones or their tablets.”

itslearning´s responsive design strategy, which ensures the presentation of itslearning is adapted to all devices through the device browser, allows staff and students to access itslearning on non-standardized equipment. The same information can be accessed on multiple devices because all materials in itslearning are saved using cloud-computing software.

“Our users will not need to install any additional software on their device, and they do not need to worry about updating any applications on their device. All they have to do is log in and access their content,” Hove says.

More schools to implement BYOD this fall

Akershus and Hordaland counties, which both use itslearning, will implement BYOD for the first time this fall, according to the report. They will join Møre og Romsdal, Sogn og Fjordane and Rogaland, three counties that are already practicing BYOD. Rogaland was the first county to practice BYOD.

“Rogaland county has had really positive experiences with BYOD. They say that practicing BYOD is not a big change from using school laptops. The students want to use their own tools,” Sevik says. “The question is, ‘what do you need to be able to do your job as a student?’ If you can do your job using a tablet or mobile phone you should be able to do it.”

Hove says that allowing students to use their own devices will ultimately give them freedom to decide where and when they learn, because they will use the same device in personal and school life. “In addition to having control over the device, this may help remove some of the barriers between the formal school life and their leisure time, extending the classroom and learning activities into their personal life through more informal learning,” Hove explains.

Schools must develop BYOD policy, says itslearning manager

County officials interviewed for the report expressed a number of concerns with the scheme, including how to prevent students from cheating on digital exams when they are all using different devices. There are also privacy concerns related to whether teachers are entitled to access personal devices to determine if cheating is taking place. Another concern is the danger that BYOD will widen the social divide in schools, with some students using more expensive equipment than others. Sevik says these are among the issues that will be discussed at the June meeting of county school IT managers.

Hove advises schools to weigh the benefits and challenges of BYOD before implementing. “Schools need to carefully consider how they implement BYOD and set policy accordingly,” Hove explains. “Many schools ask students and parents to agree to acceptable use policies for web access and computer use. BYOD should be a part of this. And, where possible, schools should offer additional access to devices for students to use in the classroom to help increase personal access.”

The report also polled the county authorities about whether they anticipate BYOD will save them money. It concluded that nine counties thought that BYOD would save them money, while seven counties were unsure and three thought that it would not. This June,the report will be presented at a meeting of county IT managers that will be held in Fredrikstad and hosted by Østfold County.

 

 

What is your relationship to or opinion of BYOD in education? Please share your thoughts in the comment field below.

 

4 comments (Add your own)

1. Dixon Hill wrote:
This article is not all that grounded in reality. First off, the students do not use their own device, 70% still use the "ElevPC" offered by the county. The students then decide to use a Mac, marking them for the unending grief of having no Internet Explorer and the limitations of It's. Then there is the question of economics, i had the pleasure of being a target of Akershus' evangelism tour and ask direct questions on their plans to implement BYOD. Akershus has found that they "will save money" but when asked how much the response was "unknown", this self defeating statement shows how poor the groundwork is. Then when pressed the reponse was that the savings are dependent on the county being able to sell the devices to the students so that they can cash in the m.v.a. A dubious action in itself. Now what about It's? Safari in iOS? Okay, let's make a test for our students... Okay, title, I click to add a description and a new window Opens... I type a letter and ...wait, where did my keyboard go? Click and it is back... A letter and gone... Well let's add some colour to the two letters, double click, select all and... I'm back at home screen because it's managed to crash safari... One of so few sites I know that manages this over and over. So bring your own device... Just make sure it runs Windows and is able to do all the things your school expects it to run. After all, the county has money it has to save and apparently it is more important for people like Sevik to be on the counties good side and be cool, hip and with the trends (stupid as they may be) then to demand that the county place equipment of high quality that adds to the students learning. After all, like any teenager will point out, it's more important to be cool then to be educated. (Please note that I haven't even touched to subject of servicing these devices and managing them while under the pressure of not breaking the right to privacy or the ability to prevent cheating during tests)

Wed, June 12, 2013 @ 10:45 PM

2. Lars-Jacob Hove wrote:
Dixon, Thank you for your thoughts. You raise relevant concerns and point at issues that is a challenge in schools today. It is also true that in many schools, a majority of students and teachers are using devices provided by their school. However, looking 3-5 years into the future we expect that the devices being used in a school will grow more and more heterogeneus. There will of course be differences between countries, and between different educational segments, but we know that education is becoming increasingy mobile and that both students and teachers will be accessing services and applications using their own devices - including itslearning. This is why we are working towards supporting all our users, indepedent on which device they are using, and want to offer them the best possible experience. This will not only benefit those who want to bring their own devices, but also make sure that all our users have a great experience. Even if they are using devices provided by their school or their school district.

Sat, June 15, 2013 @ 12:16 AM

3. Dixon Hill wrote:
Lars-Jacob, It's learning, I have no doubt will adapt to service the heterogeneous world of ICT in education, slowly but surely. However, in Norway we are in the unique situation of being able to provide students with powerful tools that are not limited by the parents earnings or differ from one state to another. Yet still, here we are, with people like Sevik whom are hired by the government and yet she promotes a choice that brings with it a serious downgrade of the level of service (repairs), the support from local ICT dep. and the credibility of the exams (as there are huge restrictions on what the school and it's IT dep. can do to prevent cheating). The social divide and social implicatitions that, mind you, the Norwegian government are prohibited from making (same quality of education, independent of what the parents earn, do not create social divides) are conveniently ignored by Sevik. Sevik should leave the "let's save money" mind-set to the economists and politicians, It's learning however should continue to grow and expand the service to be truely platform independent.

Sat, June 15, 2013 @ 5:20 AM

4. Kristine Sevik wrote:
Dixon, Thank you for the feedback! This article is based on an interview about the report recently released by the Center for ICT in Education. We are fully aware of the school owners' responsibility in providing each student with the necessary tools for learning (including laptops and other devices), and the current solution with Elev-pc. Because of this, the discussion about BYOD or not in Norwegian Uper Secondary schools differ from many other countries. The report therefore defines a "BYOD approach" as not only allowing students to bring and use their own devices (phones, tablets, laptops), but to do so without facing many restrictions in the network, available services, software etc. This means that the discussion is not so much about access to devices (everyone have and will continue to have access to at least one device for school purposes), but how services are delivered. We don't have evidence to suggest that BYOD apporach will save the school owners money, but this is not always the argument used when deciding to implement it. However; the question of social divide is one of the major concerns with allowing student owned devices to be used for school purposes, and should not be ignored (as is also stated in the report). This is probably an even greater concern in primary and lower secondary education where few schools can offer 1:1 access to devices.

Thu, June 20, 2013 @ 7:10 PM

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