Does BYOD really mean SYOD?

I’m about to tell you a secret but, as it’s just you and me, I’m sure you won’t tell.

I hate sharing.

There. I’ve said it. It doesn’t apply to every situation – I’ll happily share a story, cut you in on a good night out, split the bill, and pour us each a nice glass of merlot.

But there are times when I don’t want to share. The first ‘go’ on a new piece of technology…the first look at a birthday present…the first bite of crème brûlée (especially that moment when the caramel cracks)…

There are some things that are so precious, that are just ours,  that we just want to put them up on the top shelf when the friends come round to play because they’re just for us.

The prevailing paradigm, especially concerning technologies, is that we should be sharing – share our ideas, thoughts, expertise. I strongly advocate for it when I’m facilitating sessions on professional learning. Heck, the whole underlying premise of ‘social’ technology is that we are innately good sharers. But in practice, sharing is not always straightforward.

A recent conversation with a teacher about the educational shift towards BYOD – students bringing their own web-capable devices to school  –  recently got me thinking about sharing in the classroom. He told me that:

“BYOD [Bring your own device] seemed like a great idea, and this year we strategically  allowed our students to bring their own devices in. We got all kinds of different technologies, which seemed great at first.

But the problem we have found is that students don’t want to share their devices all the time, and as not everyone in the class has one, that’s what we had planned to happen, at times.

It is often the most precious thing they own. They know their parents have paid a lot of money for them, and they are very protective of these devices.”

These are interesting questions to grapple with:

  • To what extent do we assume that our students will share technologies they own?
  • How reliant are we on the goodwill of the students and their families to meet inequities of access?
  • How can we design an approach that manages this issue, that doesn’t rely on the support of a few famiies, and that doesn’t make some students feel left out while others feel put upon?

Is this teacher alone in trying to respond to this – or are other schools seeing the same?

[Image source:  Kalexanderson]


Just found two other interesting articles looking at the possible disadvantages of a BYOD approach:

None of this is to say that BYOD is wrong, but the more viewpoints on an issue that we have, the more we can plan for the implications.

2 thoughts on “Does BYOD really mean SYOD?

  1. This is an interesting post – because I was so surprised that BYOD was assumed to mean that the DEVICE was shared, rather than the device being a tool that the student was familiar with and had ownership of, and used to learn with. Do we expect students to share their own exercise books? No, but we do expect them to share thinking, ideas, and, possibly, resources they find. The device mediates the sharing, but is not the thing shared itself


    1. Thanks, Noeline – great to see you here:) Apologies for sloooow reply. I think you raise an interesting and important point abut the way the phrasing and easy throwaway acronym – BYOD – is used around different schools. Mal Lee has written extensively abut this, as I’m sure you know. In different places, the concept of BYOD is not unpacked with reference to vision, ownership, purpose, use and so the way devices are rolled out unearths situations like the one I described. But of course, you’re right – the entire concept of BYOD relates to student ownership of their own learning and the way they collaborate with others. It’s not a device, it should be part of a future-oriented paradigm related to personalised learning and agency. Thanks for stopping by!


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