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What is BYOD and why should I care?

October 11, 2012

The latest buzz-o-nym is BYOD — Bring Your Own Device to school or work. That’s your device as opposed to the one your IT people provide, sell, or support – and people typically bring a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Wikipedia frames BYOD in terms of business practice: employees bring devices to work and are allowed to access company resources.

It may not be a big deal to you, but Educause listed BYOD number 2 on its Top-Ten IT Issues for 2012.

For a time, many universities believed it would be most efficient for everyone to use the same platform, say Windows 7. Many even insisted that students use a standard device, like a Lenovo laptop. But that mentality is changing. Financially, the incentives are smaller; vendors have lower profit margins and can no longer give deep discounts to educational institutions. And functionally, much more of our daily work is done “in the cloud,” making platform-linked desktop software less of an issue.

The real kicker for BYOD on college campuses, though, has been the tablet invasion. Tablets are very portable, relatively inexpensive, useful as e-textbook readers, and perhaps not as noticeably distracting as laptops in the classroom. They also raise several concerns. Here are a few:

  1. Bandwidth – portable devices are wireless, but in many locations there is not enough room on the airwaves for lots of people to use Wi-Fi at the same time.
  2. Support – campus help desks can’t support an infinite combination of form factors, operating systems, and applications.
  3. Design – web pages must display properly on a wide variety of screen sizes, account for multiple video file types, and so on.

Learn more about BYOD on campus:

  1. The Promises and Pitfalls of BYOD (Campus Technology)
  2. BYOD: Bring your own devices to campus (Community College Times)
  3. 7 Myths About BYOD Debunked (THE Journal)

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