The concept of Bring Your Own Device or BYOD is gradually being implemented in schools and classrooms. BYOD permits students to use devices such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops in order to provide them with 21st century learning opportunities and enhance classroom instruction. 

BYOD brings huge benefits to the table for effective classroom teaching and learning. Teachers can easily prepare and access their lessons in one location; they can supplement their lessons with interactive online tools and resources; and track student progress, to name a few.

When students come into class with their own mobile device, they have the world at their fingertips. They can connect to any thing at any given moment from the comfort of their desks. And by using technology in the classroom, students become better prepared for the outside world.

While BYOD positively redefines the roles of teachers and how students are learning, it also poses challenges and concerns with regards to its implementation and management. 

The same liberties that allow students to seek out relevant classroom information can also easily fuel distraction to themselves and their peers. Some students frequently check their devices, making them unfocused during the lesson. Others secretly engage in conversations via chat or text messaging or constantly look at their social media accounts such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

It is obvious, however, that the benefits and advantages of BYOD far outweighs its drawbacks. Thus, it leads us to a very important question: how can we effectively manage and use mobile devices in our classroom in order to create a safe and productive learning environment?

Tips for managing devices in the classroom

Set specific guidelines in advance

A teacher who goes about doing any activity without setting clear expectations for student behavior is doomed to fail. This advice is basic classroom management. Teachers must have specific guidelines for using electronic devices and students should be aware of them. What will be considered acceptable or unacceptable use at any given moment?

Here are some straightforward guidelines for BYOD:

  • Bring your device at your own risk 

This means that if you bring a device, you are responsible for keeping it safe and secure.

  • Do not leave your device in a classroom unattended.
  • The use of a personal device in the classroom is for instructional use only and must support instructional activities.
  • Students are not permitted to use these devices during class time to:
  1. Access social networking sites (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)
  2. Send and receive text messages
  3. Play games
  4. Engage in online shopping or access sites unrelated to the classroom instruction
  5. Perform any tasks that prohibit the learning of themselves and others, for example, audio should be muted unless directed otherwise by the teacher.

Hold students accountable for their actions

If a student is caught violating the Classroom Device Policy, what course of actions will you take? The students should know that there will be consequences should they misuse their device or violate the classroom device policy. 

The following are sample consequences:

  • 1st offense: Verbal warning. Student will be directed to put the device away.
  • 2nd offense: Device will be confiscated and returned at the end of the class.
  • 3rd offense: Device will be confiscated and parents will be notified of all further actions and consequences.
  • 4th or more offense: Device will be confiscated and turned in to the student’s administrator. A parent will be required to pick up the device.

Create a Student-Teacher Contract

The contract is simply a printed copy of the Classroom Device Policy with space for the students and parents to sign. Creating a student-teacher contract creates a sense of seriousness and maturity around what happens in the classroom. This will also make sure that the parents know what is expected of their child when they bring their device into the class.

It is important to read the contract together with the student and make sure he or she understands all of its stipulations prior to signing it. 

Download this simple Classroom Device Policy Contract for free!

Move around the classroom during lessons.

This is an old-fashioned but practical way to keep an eye on students and their mobile device habits. Be unpredictable. Also consider how the desks are arranged so that it’s easy to move around to monitor the students, and so that there aren’t any blind spots.

Enable Wi-Fi filter

Remove the temptation altogether by locking out applications that aren’t needed for the class such as social networking sites and YouTube. Enabling the wifi filter can also protect students from harm when they connect to the Internet as it prevents students from being exposed to inappropriate online material.

Teach Digital Citizenship 

Common Sense Education has a free program that includes comprehensive learning resources for students, teachers, and family members on how to be a responsible digital citizen. The program addresses real challenges for teachers and students to help schools navigate cyberbullying, internet safety, and other digital dilemmas. When you teach digital citizenship to your students, you help create a positive school culture that supports safe and responsible technology use.