October 29, 2012

From Gerald R. Lucas

BYOD Policy

These days, it’s almost like our cell phones are as integral to our daily functioning as our right hands. And even if we could, we wouldn’t leave our right hands in our cars or — Heaven forbid — in our hot cars where anyone could pinch them. Besides, what happens if there’s an emergency, or worse your boss needs to contact you, and your phone is silent in your purse; what tragedies could be avoided if we only had our hands cell phones.

New Media Image 04.jpg

All kidding aside, this BYOD policy allows you to not only bring your portable device — tablet, phone, or laptop — to class, but to use it throughout. It trusts you to use it for the benefit of your education for the short time class meets each week. When using the device in class, just use your common sense, asking “would my professor approve of this use?” I don’t mind the occasional text, but please do not let your device be a distraction.

Here are some guidelines for in-class device use.

Failure to abide by the following rules will make this policy null and void. I.e., you will lose your device privileges in class. Please takes this seriously.

  1. You must abide by the college’s Appropriate Use Policy (PDF).
  2. You must only use your device to work on class materials while class is in-session.
  3. You must install and use applications that I (the professor) assign you to use. Specific applications and uses will depend on the class. Instructions on the proper use of these applications will follow.
  4. You must be open to using your device in ways that you are perhaps not used to.
  5. You must turn off the device and put it away if asked to — usually for tests.

As education becomes more mediated by technology, bringing your own device is getting to be less of an option and more of a necessity. As of this post, I’m not requiring students to bring a device, but that is the next logical step.

But, My Professor . . .

I can hear the objections now: “but my professor forbids me to use a device in class. Should I do it anyway?” I used to be one of these: forbidding the use of cell phones in the classroom. However, I was only considering how they might be misused, and it took some research to understand how they could be used to re-energize and hack education for the better. A professor who says “no” might just need to be shown how a digital device benefits teaching and learning.

If your professor is dead-set against your use of a digital device, even after assuring him that you will only use it for class while in class, you should respect his wishes.

However, you might consider taking the same course with another professor who is more amenable to digital devices in the classroom. While approaches to teaching in higher education more conservative than progressive, educators in the digital age should really begin to embrace the logic of the digital age in teaching and scholarship. For example, I’m sure at some point you’ve heard a professor warn you away from Wikipedia for whatever reason, maybe: “It can’t be trusted because anyone can edit it.” I’ve always been confused by this response. If an expert saw something wrong with Wikipedia, she could change and make it correct and therefore reliable. The old excuses are not very tenable in the digital world. Educators need to catch up.

Ultimately, your education is your responsibility. That’s why you’re reading this book. Your device gives you more power in the classroom, so this might intimidate some educators. I feel as long as you’re using your device in a way that builds your knowledge and understanding in a non-distracting way, you are within your rights to use it.

That said, respect your professor’s wishes and find those who are more progressive in their approach to classroom policies.