It is no accident that computers are called personal computers – they are personal tools. The underlying assumption that we seem to have made in education is that a computer can be used by a student for a limited period of time – their work saved on a network drive – and then they can go away resuming their work at a future date on a different machine at a different location.
In our view this is a reductionist mechanistic way of using technology. If technology is to be the creative tool that we know it can be then a student has to own it and have continuous access to their collected works and resources. They need to be connected to their ideas and writings by having a sense of ownership – the contents of their computer are their developing thoughts, concepts, ideas and expertise. Build your buildings to welcome student technology.
The proliferation of apps enables learners to personalise their devices (especially iPads/tablets and smart phones) for their learning styles and preferences. This can have implications for learner support (IT and academic) and should be considered in policy and service level documents. Learners (and staff for that matter) may not realise the importance of security until they have a problem that impinges upon their learning; for example loss or damage to a device that results in an assignment being handed in late with resultant penalties.
Guidance should be provided on:
- password protection
- anti-virus protection and data loss prevention
- mobile device management to wipe personal/sensitive data in the case of the device being lost/stolen
- backups and cloud storage.
King’s College, London has upgraded its network and bring your own device (BYOD) policy to enable staff and students to use their own devices, including access to the virtual desktop. As part of this they implemented a private cloud platform delivered via the Janet Network. Janet has negotiated special pricing models with some of its cloud and data centre framework suppliers. There is also a detailed guide to cloud computing that includes guidance on security and service models.
Our mobile technology and the law overview addresses some of the BYOD-related issues.