Why you shouldn’t do BYOD

While participating in an interesting discussion on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device: students bringing their own personal technology into school for learning) in tonight’s #edchat, I tweeted this:

Was I trying to ignore socio-economic disparities in society? No.

I would, however, like for someone to show me the graph with a straight line correlating income and technology ownership. I would also like to see us simultaneously examine the overflowing examples of similar ‘inequities’ that we tolerate in our systems simply because those processes have been normalized in the hegemony of schooling.

Here are some of the real reasons you shouldn’t do BYOD:

  1. Social media does not have a place in your school.
  2. You have not set up a tool (such as Google Apps for Ed., Ning, Edmodo, etc.) to compliment multi-platform use.
  3. Your staff does not understand why or how someone might use personal technology for learning, collaboration, creativity, communication, organization, and productivity.
  4. Your curriculum focusses heavily on knowledge transmission.
  5. Your assessment and evaluation theory and practice are from a bygone era.
  6. You are test-driven, in a traditional, standardized sense.
  7. You have rigid and punitive technology policies.
  8. You don’t have ubiquitous wifi.
  9. Your leaders don’t get it.
  10. You do not have enough school devices to supplement students who do not own their own.
  11. You don’t actively promote all stakeholders as being co-learners.
What are your thoughts on this?


  1. Thanks for putting your thoughts down here. This is a very useful list. Any of the items on it could doom a BYOD plan and that is important to consider.

  2. It is amazing how many don’t get the points that you are talking about. I have seen schools where they have BYOD but no one can articulate why. That is a problem.

    Thanks for putting your thoughts down and leading Royan. Great post.

  3. I agree with your list. Perhaps as the traditional schools move forward items 8,9,10,and 11 will become obsolete. Education is more than the devices we use.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
    Traci Dorby

  4. Very well thought out. I was worried for a second when I saw the tweet saying not to do BYOD, but your post reassured me that you hadn’t lost your mind :).

    I totally agree with this. Bad teachers shouldn’t use BYOD.

  5. Even with a temporary set of 10 iPod Touch 4s to loan out to students, I sometimes felt like I was creating a sense of have versus have nots, of Apple versus everyone else. Students were rueful about owning older versions of iPods or “only” having access to PSPs. As for myself, I lacked knowledge about Blackberry, Android or Windows mobile devices. Students with those particular devices had to do research to find equivalent apps or processes – at times, a frustrating experience for all involved. There is value to BYOD but I think we need a society with a mobile market saturation like Europe (apparently around 120%) before most equity issues can be resolved. Schools would still need to have devices to loan out. This year, I’m trying to avoid the app issue altogether by using online tools only. Seems to be a better approach.

  6. 5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Respond To This Blog

    1. You don’t get what it’s about
    2. You say you don’t have time (and yet, you’re reading this)
    3. No one taught you how to use the tool (and yet, you’re reading this)
    4. You don’t consider this learning
    5. You have to get back to all that grading you brought home tonight.

  7. 4, 5 and 6 πŸ™‚

    Great post Royan, got me thinking… we are in danger of getting lost in arguments that have very little to do with improving our teaching and learnng.

    There are no tricks to creating an engaging learning environment. The answer is not technology nor problem based math nor choice (to name a few). It begins with, and always has, the teacher. We are still the biggest predictor of success. So perhaps the answer is to chage both our beliefs AND, more importantly, our practices to serve the children in our classes today. Only then will BYOD make any sense because we will have addressed the 11 points in your list.

    Perhaps πŸ™‚


  8. Brilliant points, and all the better because you’ve highlighted the points that so many of us who are pushing for better use of technology in the classroom forget in our rush to see change.

    If we could address all the points you have raised what a difference the learning landscape would have undergone!

    Brilliance. πŸ˜‰

  9. Royan, I applaud you for this post, and I completely agree with you too. I have worked in both higher income and lower income areas, and in both cases, there have been students with devices and those without. I don’t think that this is reason enough to embrace or not embrace BYOD. You’ve really gotten all of us thinking about the choices that we make. Thanks for starting a wonderful discussion here!


  10. I’m currently mentally wrestling with The Shallows and ECOO echoes. There is a lot of friction between the two. The idea of digital tools making us mentally poor is a tricky one to deal with; I see it all the time in the classroom (Facebook zombies).

    I’d want to add to the list: “You’re not able to use technology as a deep learning tool and will only encourage students to simplistic (and according to Carr, brain alteringly habitual) technology use.”

    This actually damages students if you believe the argument in The Shallows. Unless you know how to use technology to enhance and complexify your thinking, you probably should leave it alone. http://temkblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/do-you-ride-horse-or-does-horse-ride.html

  11. Great thoughts here.
    At ECOO 2011 I sensed that there is a movement to recognize that tools are not the point, good instruction/pedagogy is. Royan, you have helped bring that point to the foreground with this post. Thank you.
    What strikes me after reading is that our perspective (as a teaching profession) towards tech still has a long way to go.

  12. I think BYOD is an excellent idea whether you have enough devices for a whole class or not. Some days my whole class will have access to a desktop or laptop computer and those students who prefer to BYOD will stick with their own device. Who am I to argue. It is their device and they are more comfortable using it.

    However, it is sad that we even need to have blog posts like this one highlighting these tech issues. We live in a world run on technology, and we have been living in this world for some time. Isn’t it about time every student had access to technology 24/7.

  13. This post is excellent preparation for BYOD. It provides the necessary forethought on this idea and its implementation. Some of the things on the list would be there if it was Bring Your Own Dog to school! Right? It, to me, is all about being prepared and managing the classroom properly.

    You cannot pretend that technology isn’t everywhere (backpacks) already . Teachers should try to enhance with whatever technology is available and enrich the learning environment. even if it is in a student’s jacket pocket.

  14. Great post! As for the idea of not every student having a device to bring in, we found that it is not just an economic issue, but one of parental permission as well. Some parents simply do not want their child bringing a laptop or tablet into school. When we surveyed our high school we found that 78% of the parents would allow their children to bring in devices (which I think is an encouraging number).
    Our high school did a BYOT pilot at the end of last school year which went very well, and we are working on expanding the pilot this year.
    I also co-hosted an episode of “The State of Tech” podcast just this past weekend where the topic was all about BYOT / BYOD. It is about an hour long and can be found at:

  15. Thanks for this post. (And for all the comments thus far) It is really helping me to focus on what is important here. Unfortunately, with so many potential sales involved the pressure from suppliers is quite intense and it becomes difficult to seperate want fom need.
    I’m also less worried about the “Not everyone has one” and more concerned about “Not everyone wants their kids to take one to school”. My sister – who is definitely not a technophobe – says she is trying to get my neice and nephews to spend less time on their technology, not more, and doesn’t want school increasing the pressure. I don’t think she’ll be alone. We need to get the balance right here and that is down to the teacher, not the technology.
    I certainly don’t think we shouldn’t do BYOD (sorry – double neg) but we definitely need to be as clear as possible about what, how and why we are doing it.

  16. Wow, just….wow! I’d really like to play with the BYOD classroom, because I don’t have access to a lab, but I have wrestled with the have/have not piece. I really liked your list – I’m past the bottom chunk, but I need to work on the top bunch. Thanks for a jumping-off point.

  17. Interesting post. I compliment you on taking a strong stand on this matter. Are we ever justified in moving forward with an initiative when the perfect scenario has not yet been realized? I feel bad for the schools and the school systems who are trying to do what they believe is right for students, by developing BYOD or BYOT policies. Based on the reasons you provide, they seem to be misguided. With that in mind, is there a school, anywhere, that should do BYOD? If so, please share where it is so that I may plan a visit.

  18. Wow…great post Royan and I love the preceding comments too! It is ironic, though, that the vast majority of people use the “Not everyone has one excuse”. Imagine if we made our decisions based on that argument about everything? I remember wishing that I had those “smelly markers” when they first came out. My mom couldn’t afford them – so I had to share.

    Your list of “reasons” were great – but two that I would add is that the school leader doesn’t model it effectively and that the parent community has very little understanding of social media use in education.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Royan.


  19. This blog is a as a matter of fact personal property one. Say thank you for stakeing such great information out. Ill deff be comming by more times then i do so i an observe whats great!

  20. I agree. We should be reflective about the impact of personal devices in the classroom both poitively and negatively. I favour it because I want to exploit the fct that they already serve as informal learning devices. The practice of homework is a far stronger example of social inequality in learning.

  21. I had to read the original after reading the sequel~ =)

    I am experiencing one of those moments that you mentioned in your other post (Just Post it!); so here is how I am going to deal with it by leaving a comment here. First of all, thank you for the directness and honesty in your post, even your tone. I for one would say: we need to hear this. This is my second year being in a role at my school that allows me to advise our curriculum leader on the acquisition of technology. I cannot say that I am always happy with what I have suggested in the past. I like how you put it: “what I was doing yesterday may be different tomorrow.” I feel that way all the time; however, I also feel heavily scrutnized by people around me. All I wanted to do was to share the small success stories in my classrooms; but what I found is that instead of modifying and customizing the use of technology to fit their programs, many opted to simply replicate what’s shared. Outcome: the epic fail that you mentioned in your post, and guess who’s to blame? =) Technology itself and the person advocating for it. There isn’t a one size fits all ‘patch’ out there. My goal is to dialogue with teachers, learn about their programs, and advise them on possible solutions to integrate the use of technology in their classrooms (after all, it’s not about the tools; it’s about the learning taken place in the classroom.) Such concept that seems quite logical and simple to me is not always received well among my peers; rather, many are seeking another template, another blackline master, another ready-made lesson plan. (sorry Royan, now I just sound like a sad and whiny _____) But this is the immediate reflection upon reading your post(s); too often I push for changes but I really need to slow down at times and really work with my colleagues on what’s most important: designing the classroom experience with the student in mind.

    so thank you for your provocative list; we are one of those schools with the (good) intention to adopt BYOD. I think that I will have to pause and rethink our focus so that we don’t fall into the technology for technology’s sake trap.



    1. Wow, Ming, thanks so much for the honest and reflective response. I think it’s fair to say that myself and a lot of the people who would read this can relate to the experiences and emotions you describe. I have been in the exact boat before.

      It keeps making me think of something @orengrebler says all the time, that as a leader of technology initiatives at school, one is often simultaneously cast as hero and villain. Chin up, keep on truckin’:)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s