An article in this morning’s Herald titled “Hate your work? Then bring your own PC” comes as a timely reminder of one of the big issues schools will face in the coming few years – the provision an support of computer equipment for staff and students.
I see this as the convergence of two key drivers:
- the increasing cost to schools of providing students with access to up-to-date computers, and of maintaining these and the software installed on them; and
- the increasing personalisation of all things in education, including the choice of where, when and with what students (and teachers) can work and access their learning.
The Herald refers to the solution as BYOC (bring your own computer), and there are already plenty of examples of where this is happening, with a range of responses including;
- schools moving to providing robust wireless systems and inviting students to bring their own devices to connect to the network,
- schools providing assistance to families to purchase their own laptops or netbooks,
- schools requiring all students to purchase a laptop a a requirement of enrolment.
We mustn’t forget also the fact that in NZ for a number of years now we have had the laptops for principals and teachers programmes that have indisputably had a significant impact on the work patterns of teachers and played a significant role in building ICT capability across the sector.
The Herald article notes;
Computers are superseded by better models every month, but regularly upgrading a building’s worth of technology is unrealistic. The irony of this situation is that everyone in the IT department – and probably the frustrated staff they’re trying to help – will often have far more powerful computers sitting at home doing nothing.
This is exactly the problem schools face – how to keep up. Well, one way would appear to be to promote the use of personally owned devices in (and out) of schools.
In Christchurch following the Feb 22 earthquake there has been significant talk about business continuity – and how to achieve this. For those companies (like the one I work for) where employees have their own device and are site-independent in the way they can therefore work, this was certainly a key factor in our business continuity.
I’d like to promote the idea of ‘learning continuity’ as something we need to strive for in education – learning that happens beyond the hours that school is open – and the BYOC campaign would certainly be a good place to start.