Contemporary models for technology integration such as the Technology Integration Planning (TIP) model (Roblyer & Doering, 2014) focus on curriculum, pedagogy, and assessment (all important) and provide little guidance on the equitable selection of technology (also important). As a result, technology interventions in Australian schools (generally BYOD programs) are frequently based on the premise that students either have – or can afford to buy – the devices that will be integrated into classroom practice.
BYOD programs can be challenging to implement if students have different devices with varying capabilities running different versions of multiple operating systems. For this reason, many schools are opting for ‘Buy the [Apple] Device We Tell You To’ (BTAD) programs (see Pepper, 2017). In other words, BYOD programs in Australian schools are as much about economic participation as classroom participation. This is problematic in a country that has achieved international notoriety for its high levels of inequity among the social class and income axis (UNICEF, 2016). Recent research conducted by the University of Technology, Melbourne, found that while federal initiatives such as the roll-out of the National Broadband Network have increased access to digital services, the affordability gap is widening (Thomas, Barraket, Ewing, MacDonald, Mundell and Tucker, 2016). For students with average or advanced socioeconomic backgrounds, personal smart devices and the services they provide are becoming increasingly affordable. For disadvantaged students, BYOD programs can assist in maintaining existing disparities in educational opportunities along socioeconomic lines, as low-income families face a higher proportionate cost to finance personal smart devices and the associated services relative to their income.
BYOD – or BTAD – programs are frequently based on the premise that in order to integrate BYOD programs into classroom practice successfully and boost student achievement, 1:1 technology interventions are necessary. There is a distinct lack of quantitative evidence to suggest that 1:1 technology initiatives impact learning outcomes more substantially than low-tech or no-tech approaches (Hattie, 2009). While the lack of evidence can in part be attributed to the rapid development of new technologies in contrast to the delay between the completion of research and its publication, evidence that BTAD 1:1 approaches can disadvantage and place undue financial strain on low-income families is abundant (see Pepper, 2017).
The assumption that a BYOD program must be a 1:1 technology intervention to improve learning outcomes is a fallacy and can further disadvantage economically vulnerable students! -Math
The Principles for Digital Development can be used to provide guidance on the equitable selection of technology for BYOD programs. BYOD solutions for high inequity or low resource environments include ‘one device per class’ interventions, as well as the use of open source authoring tools to create learning materials inexpensively that are accessible offline and can be used with a variety of devices.
Hattie, J. (2009). Visible Learning: a synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Oxon: Routledge.
Pepper, F. January, 2017. Parents upset with requirements to buy tablets and laptops for primary school children. ABC Radio Melbourne. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-16/bring-your-own-device-requirements-for-primary-schools-debate/8184520
The Principles for Digital Development. (n.d). Retrieved from: http://digitalprinciples.org
Thomas, J, Barraket, J, Ewing, S, MacDonald, T, Mundell, M & Tucker, J. (2016). Measuring Australia’s Digital Divide: The Australian Digital Inclusion Index 2016, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, for Telstra. DOI: www.dx.doi.org/10.4225/50/57A7D17127384
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). (2016). Fairness for Children. A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries, no. 13, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, Florence. Retrieved from: https://www.unicef-irc.org/publications/series/16/
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.