It can be trickier for institutions to allow staff to use their own technologies to access institutional systems than it is to allow students. After all, staff are likely to have access to confidential or personal data.
Institutions need to have clear staff policies and guidelines, setting out what their staff can access and what support is, or isn’t, available for the various technologies they might want to use.
Increasingly, students expect to access learning activities and content from their own devices. The benefits to learners are obvious - it enables them to access these from home, work, placements or field work.
This approach also appears to support flexible learning, and strategies to widen participation.
Equality of access
Designing a course or class around students using their own technologies can raise issues of equity and access. Poorer students may not be able to afford up-to-date devices, and students living in areas where mobile signals are very weak or non-existent are potentially at a disadvantage.
Institutions need to consider how they can provide an equitable experience, and they may need to provide alternative routes into either content or learning activities.
Keeping information secure
Online students might well expect that all the information and services available on campus will automatically be available to them online or via their mobile device, including personal information such as grades. This presents a challenge, as institutions do need to keep their systems and information secure.
As well as information and guidance about this, students may also need help to use their own devices.
It’s likely that online students will access materials and activities through their own devices, so when designing a curriculum, it’s important to realise that content may be accessed by a range of different technologies.
This offers freedom for students to manage their own time, regulate how and when they access online learning and puts control firmly in their own hands. However it can be difficult for staff, who may have to respond to demands for support, and provide learning content in a variety of formats.
Case study - open online collaborative courses
The BYOD4L open online course is an example of this kind of initiative. It now has 12 institutional partners and over 20 volunteer facilitators.
Staff and students work collaboratively on problems and scenarios, using existing tools or creating new resources using the hashtag #BYOD4L, and working within a pedagogical framework for social learning (the 5Cs model, Nerantzi and Beckingham, 2014).
|Barriers||What you can do|
|Difficulty knowing which technologies and tools students have access to||Carry out a pre-course survey of students to identify if any students do not have appropriate access|
|Develop contingency plans to support students who may not have access|
|Problems making campus-based technologies accessible to all course participants||Expand necessary licences or agreements to include off-campus access|