A successful introduction of a “bring your own device” (BYOD) program is a hard nut to crack. Principals and teachers should be prepared to face various challenges, such as developing a policy for responsible use or training staff to become more tech savvy than ever. But that's not all. Perhaps the most important part of the project are parents and their approach towards introducing technology in the classroom.
A successful transition to BYOD can only be possible after a very careful and thorough planning. In order to make sure the program stands a chance, teachers and headmasters should proceed slowly--a pilot program, for instance, can be great for convincing suspicious teachers and parents who share a wealth of misconceptions about the use of BYOD in the classroom. Introducing the program in phases or on a voluntary basis will also help educators to spot potential problems and fix them before launching a full-scale BYOD project.
If you're an educator interested in developing a BYOD program at your school and have already convinced your skeptical colleagues and administrative staff, it's time to face the final challenge--the parents. Here are some pointers on how to educate parents and make sure they understand the importance of the project and fully support it.
In order to succeed, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page about the BYOD program. What you need to do is educate parents – provide educational materials about the expectations and policies of use of mobile devices, the benefits of their use in the classroom and how exactly will they be employed to present course material in an engaging way.
You'll also need to decide which devices you'll be using and then explain to parents the reasons behind supporting one kind of devices and excluding others. Make sure parents are aware of all the security measures taken to provide the safest experience for the pupils – a special BYOD security policy must be one of the first point you cover on your introductory meeting with parents.
Tackle the cost issue
If you want your BYOD program to bring a real value to classroom environment, you need to make sure that all students have their own devices and can access the web form their homes. The matter of costs is a difficult one--some schools won't be able to procure funding for the project and parents will be the ones to equip their children with school's chosen devices.
In order to make sure this doesn't become a major fault of the project, see if the school can set up an inventory and a loaner service to help equip all students with mobile devices. Some schools offer special stipends to assist families in purchasing a device or setting up broadband at home. Make sure that this aspect of the program is well-developed before you start convincing parents of its value.
Establish a use policy
Parents usually associate mobile devices with games, so some of them will doubt their value in schools and fear that instead of actively participating in lessons, children will be busy browsing the web. Explain to parents how you plan to control the use of mobile devices in the classroom and make sure that teachers are aware of the use policy and able to enforce it when necessary.
Not every parent is equally tech savvy and some will require additional explanation and perhaps a demonstration of the potential device use in the classroom. You can organize a training session, where parents get familiarized with the proposed devices and their functionalities, experiencing the classroom reality first-hand.
Some parents might fear their knowledge won't be enough to help their children in their digital homework, so make sure that teachers will be able to answer all the questions parents might have about the basic technical side of the project. During the first phases of the program, the parent-teacher communication line should be closer than ever, allowing for a smooth transmission of information that will help to establish your BYOD program.
Convincing parents that a BYOD program can be of great value to the education of their children isn't easy, but it's a must--their support will ensure the success of the whole operation.