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Make IT Better: UK schools surveyed on potential BYOD use for ICT lessons

31 Jan 2013

A number of UK schools are encouraging students to bring their own laptops, smartphones and tablets to ICT lessons as a means to improve their education in the subject.

As a result the Open University is running a national survey to assess whether this trend could possibly be taken nationwide. V3 interviewed Peter Twining, a senior lecturer at the university, about the survey's launch.

The Your Own Technology Survey (YOTS) has been launched to all schools nationwide and aims to find out how many UK school children have access to a range on internet-enabled devices.

YOTS has been developed as part of the Open University's professional development Vital programme, which is partly funded by the Department for Education (DfE).

Open University senior lecturer Peter Twining Twining, an Open University senior lecturer, said ICT and computer science learning needs to be improved, but a major challenge facing all schools at the moment is the lack of budget available for them to procure technology.

"There are innovations taking place in English schools that could lead to big changes in how [ICT] is taught," said Twining.

"This has been triggered by the increasing numbers of pupils who own their own tablets, as well as a reduction in funding to schools."

Twining was referring to the dramatic 50 percent cuts the government made to the Harnessing Technology Grant in 2010. The capital was available to schools to support investment in technology for education.

Now, two years have passed since this grant was cut, and many schools have to think about how they are going to renew their IT kit.

"Many schools have realised they have to be more creative in how they finance their technology. Some see that many students have technology in their pocket and at home, and start thinking about whether they can use that stuff."

"The number of UK schools going down the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) route at the moment is very small, but more and more are beginning to consider it. There's clearly a substantial interest in the school community on whether BYOD is the way forward.

The alternative to schools encouraging pupils to bringing their own devices to IT lessons is for parents to subsidise the technology.

"In many cases parents may actually prefer the BYOD model as then the students are using technology they have already bought them, and don't have to pay £16 a month or so," said Twining.

"It also depends on the teacher and whether they want all kids to have exactly the same device."

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Rosalie Marshall

Rosalie Marshall is the special projects editor and chief reporter at V3. Previously she was a reporter for IT Week and channel editor for online television site Rosalie covers government IT, business applications, IT skills, open source technology and social networks.

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