Updated: Microsoft Bring Your Own Device to School Discussion Paper

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Front cover of 2013 BYOD Discussion PaperSince we produced our first ‘BYOD to School’ whitepaper last year, there’s been a lot said about Bring Your Own Device in schools, and plenty of different views expressed about which model is best. From all those discussions, I and my colleagues are convinced there’s not a simple solution – there’s definitely not a ‘once size fits all’ approach to BYOD. Nor a simple decision framework to even work out whether Bring Your Own Device is right for your institution.

My colleague Sean Tierney, continues to work on this subject, and he’s just finished working with Bruce Dixon (from the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation) to update last year’s BYOD to School whitepaper. They have both been passionate advocates for 1:1 learning programmes for many years, their whitepaper aims to examine the potential deployment models from teaching, learning and IT management perspectives.

As they say in their conclusion:


BYOD is a trend that needs to be carefully examined in an education context to ensure that the models we deploy are successful. At the heart of good 1-to-1 learning is equity to ensure that all students have equal access to technology rich experiences, and simplicity to ensure that it is easy to manage and sustain.

Between equity and simplicity, however, come considerations of cost. So while today’s confluence of affordable devices, cloud computing and innovative technology dangles a tempting prospect in front of us, educators face a number of difficult decisions before we finally deliver student learning experiences as broad, deep, relevant, complex and creative as we would like them to be.

This discussion paper presents some of the varying BYOD models, their nuances and the considerations that accompany them. 1-to-1 access to technology is challenging traditional ideas about teaching and learning, and the arguments herein emphasise that decisions need to be education-based, not purely technology-based. They need to deliver tangible benefits for student learning.


The arguments also question a number of assumptions about BYOD. In particular, it questions whether BYOD really reduces the total cost of device use in schools, or whether that cost has been hidden; that is to say, passed on to parents. Hasty decisions made today risk casting a long shadow and undermining some of the important achievements made to date.

Most importantly, there needs to be agreement on the equitable and sustainable provision of technology so that the core ideas of 1-to-1 learning, refined over many years of classroom experience, are not lost. This is especially important, given that previous educational innovations have taught us that early reports of success can overlook complexities that only become apparent over time.

Bruce and Sean are adamant that all stakeholders – teachers, parents, students and principals – need to work through the tough decisions early to drive home the best outcomes for all students at all times. And that’s exactly what the ideas discussed in the discussion paper.

Learn MoreRead the full Microsoft discussion paper: Bring Your Own Device to School

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