BYOD (bring your own device) is an emerging educational technology trend according to the NMC Horizon Report > 2015 K-12 Edition. BYOD initiatives open up a lot of opportunities and present some challenges. There are many reasons why a school would decide to implement a BYOD strategy and there is a considerable amount of work that is required to ensure the roll-out is successful. There is already a considerable amount of literature on BYOD best practice and case studies. Here I’ll specifically be looking at issues relating to BYOD and GAFE.
My school is yet to implement a BYOD initiative for students. Staff already utilise some of their own technology to supplement the technology made available by the school. I predict we will be looking at BYOD for students within the next 2 years. As a GAFE school, I like to experiment with different devices to see how well they work with the GAFE environment generally and Google Drive specifically. I find it works very well with:
- Windows computers with the latest of Chrome
- Linux computers with the latest version of Chrome
- Apple computers with the latest version of Chrome
- iOS devices (iPad/iPhone) with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
- Android devices with the latest version of both the operating system and the Google Drive apps
- Chromebooks (well, duh!)
Here are some stumbling blocks I have discovered with different devices (please let me know if you have a different experience with the below or have anything to add to the list):
- Microsoft Surface tablets with Windows RT cannot have Google Chrome or Drive apps installed. You can access Google Drive through Internet Explorer but it is unreliable and can behave strangely
- Microsoft Windows phones do not work with Google Drive. There are some third party apps but reviews indicate these are not productive
- Android and iOS devices that cannot be upgraded can only have the last compatible Google Drive app installed. This means with these devices, at best, you can only view files, not create or edit them.
- Google Chrome will be supported for Windows XP until the end of 2015. Do yourself a favour. If you are running a laptop with an old, unsupported version of Windows, download and install Linux Mint. I have installed it on older desktops and laptops and it has always worked beautifully with Google Chrome.
Should GAFE schools require students to have fully compatible technology? Not necessarily and it is not always realistic. There are no doubt many other issues that schools need to consider when looking at the possibility of implementing BYOD initiatives not least of all understanding what technology students can afford to provide. However, it is important to understand the limitations in order to plan accordingly.