“Student focus groups are an integral part of our system design processes – our systems have to work across all campuses and students need to be able to access resources from anywhere via their phones and mobile devices.
We consult students on aspects such as layout and appearance and aim to present things in a user-friendly way for both students and staff.”
Michael Malone, director of curriculum, South Eastern Regional College (SERC)
Defining ‘bring your own’ (BYO)
‘Bring your own’ is the term used to describe the use of personal devices, services, data, apps and software in institutional settings. Many institutions manage this through a policy or set of policies.
Investigate the needs of BYO users
BYO use introduces a tension between the institutional need to gather and manage data in closed digital systems and the desire by students and staff to use systems outside the control of the institution and push against restrictions that impact on preferred ways of working.
Further tensions exist when implementing BYO in safeguarding the security of institutional systems, data protection and other legal responsibilities.
Case study - Plymouth University
At the Plymouth University students were took part in a survey and focus groups to ascertain the types of devices and their use of mobile technologies as well as to identify any difficulties they had in getting the information they need via their mobile devices. The information was used to inform the university’s digital strategy and in the development of the Mobile at Plymouth app.
Understand the legal context
Focus on academic practices
When developing your BYO policy assess the needs of the institution and different stakeholder groups as well as taking account of issues relating to accessibility and inclusion. Consider the academic practices that students and staff will benefit from and the devices and apps they prefer to use.
Case study - University of Bristol
At the University of Bristol the student IT experience manager acts as an advocate for student users of IT services and facilities. BYO policies and practices have been developed in response to student feedback and the rise in ownership of laptop and tablet devices.
Wi-Fi enhancements have been made for heavily used areas and support has been re-oriented to provide free support for use of personal devices, services and software.
Encourage and inform users
Users may still expect institutions to provide all the equipment, services and systems that they feel they need to succeed alongside their own technologies. Make it clear to users what is provided by the institution, how they can access institutional systems and services and use their own technologies. Ensure they are aware of relevant policies and understand their responsibilities as users.
Encourage BYO use by ensuring access to networks and power is universally available, that users can easily connect their devices to the internet while on campus and are able to access personal services via institutional networks. Secure storage for BYO device is also desirable.
Case study - Prospects College of Advanced Technology
The college are installing Meraki wireless access points and setting up a BYOD network. Students will be able to bring their own device and use the college network to access the VLE as well as other learning resources and documents stored on the cloud. Students who do not have their own device will be able to book the use of a laptop or use machines within the learning resource zones based at each campus.
The BYOD policy is summarised in poster format around the college. Students wishing to use their own devices must first download software, so that college policies on internet safety and anti-virus can be followed. Download speeds will be controlled, to protect network performance.
The work is being informed by a working group comprising representatives from IT, senior management and teaching staff and with input from students through the digital student focus groups.
Offer training and support
Use of BYO should feature in induction training, be embedded in academic and professional practices and be further developed by a range of support options designed to extend digital literacy skills and personal digital capabilities. Support may include on-demand guidance, drop-in workshops, designated champions or peer mentors and support for expert or special interest groups.
Case study - Barnet and Southgate College
DigiDesk advisers at Barnet and Southgate College provide support for students and staff to access the college wireless network and a range of other digital literacy skills through the support desk, drop-in workshops and scheduled training sessions.
Case study- Bring your own devices for learning (BYOD4L)
Bring your own devices for learning (BYOD4L) is a collaborative initiative between 12 institutional partners.
The course provides support for students and staff to use their own devices in learning and teaching situations and models the use of social media and open online spaces to work on problems and scenarios in five areas of practice: connecting, communicating, curating, collaborating and creating (5Cs model, Nerantzi and Beckingham, 2014). BYOD4L is an open course that works online and in blended mode.
Parity of access
Certainly, those without their own technologies or the skills to use them will be at a disadvantage if they do not have parity of access. You may wish to consider loan or support schemes to address this concern and provide a level playing field for students and for those involved in designing and delivering digital activities.
Case study - East Berkshire College
In addition to providing a high number of mobile devices for use by students and staff, East Berkshire College has upgraded the Wi-Fi network to Cisco Gigabit wireless network technology to ensure there is sufficient capacity to service the bandwidth these devices require and the expected increase in use of bring your own and college-provided devices.
The legitimate use of wireless connections is encouraged by enabling automated log on for validated devices to the network. Parity of access is addressed by installing over 270 Traka intelligent self-service lockers in seven locations across both campuses.
Each locker contains either a Microsoft surface pro 3 device or an iPad.
Case study - Chichester College
Chichester College actively encourage students and staff to bring their own devices. The college includes managing mobile devices in their staff training on behaviour management, induction and teacher training.
To ensure everyone has access to mobile devices they have resourced the library with mini-laptops that may be borrowed at any time.
Review estates provision to facilitate BYO use
Growing student numbers and the demand for flexible spaces to accommodate varied approaches to learning has placed increase pressure on estates provision.
BYO can help to ease the pressure but has specific requirements and may require a range of different services and spaces to support formal, informal, individual, social and collaborative learning and the opportunity to use own technologies alongside those provided by the institution.