The digital divide is alive and well, but most workers today at least own cell phones. If not, should an employee be provided with one? And what “Bring Your Own Device” policies to use with workers or students who do own devices—be they smartphones, tablets or, yes, e-readers?
Data security was a big angle in a recent GigaOM story on BYOD policies for employers. But I have been viewing this from a K-12 e-book standpoint. We explored e-books as a technology modules in my Grade 3/4 class. I have spoken to at least one parent since who is interested in buying an E Ink device for her child. Her daughter gets very distracted reading at home. She enjoys the iPad, and would read on it, but the temptation would be strong for her to do other activities. The mother is interested in a single-purpose reader that will still offer the novelty factor of the e-books her child enjoys, but which will minimize the distractions.
So, how would a Kindle or other e-reader like that function? Could this child bring it to school and use it during silent reading time? If she did, and it got lost or damaged, who would be responsible for that? If she finished a book, mid-day, who would be responsible for obtaining and loading further content onto it? Are we at the point of having a school-wide policy on this, or do we take it on a case by case basis and say this one child can, because she asked and was judged to be sufficiently responsible?
The right BYOD policy could also ease the device burden on the school itself. Most schools cannot afford one device per student. We have fifteen iPads, or generally enough for a whole-class activity. But I do have one kindergarten class whose size varies; some kids are registered for half-day programs, but stay for the full day some of the time. I could have up to 17 children, depending on who is there that day. Yes, they can (and do) share when they must. But if a student had her own device, and wanted to use it, would we let permit this? We have no policy on this yet.
As for the grown-ups, our only requirement is that one teacher must always carry a cell phone during playground duty, in case problems arise. We all do have phones, but since two of us are out there at a time, it wouldn’t be an issue if someone didn’t own one. And many of us do bring in our own laptops or tablets. Nobody has monitored that—or forbidden it. There are computers we can use at the school. Some of us prefer to use our own set-ups and that has, thus far, been allowed.
Image information: Here.