Report: BYOD Programs, Makerspaces Proliferating in Schools


The K-12 Horizon Report, an annual look at the state of educational technology by the New Media Consortium, says that makerspaces and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device programs) are the two technologies most likely to enter the educational mainstream in the next year.

The report notes two key shifts in classroom technology: that learning strategies are focusing more on projects, inquiries, and challenges that create a deeper and more rewarding classroom experience; and that schools are rethinking the traditional classroom structure and integrating multidisciplinary approaches. The NMC expects collaboration and hands-on learning to be the driving force behind new educational technology, like “user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects.”

Most importantly, the report predicts which technologies will become mainstream, or find a place in 20% of classrooms. This year’s report predicts makerspaces and BYOD to be on the rise.

Larry Johnson, CEO of NMC, said:

Our approach looks at when a trend will have its maximum impact in schools, and the degree of that impact. Will it ‘flame out’ in a year or two (e.g. Second Life)? Or will it persist (like mobile) for years, and continuously surprise us with its growing utility and capability?

BYOD policies would mirror the way that personal devices are used in college lecture halls and professional spaces, notes Stephen Noonoo of eSchool News. Brian Meller of Tech Co lists several advantages of BYOD education: it saves schools money; students can access technology in the classroom that might be more advanced than what schools could provide; it allows instruction to be more focused on the individual student; it makes taking notes and referring to PowerPoints easier; it allows easy collaboration between students from their homes; reduces the physical strain of carrying heavy textbooks; and allows the grading process to be automated with online quizzes.

However, BYOD can cause challenges for technology personnel and connectivity infrastructure, as students can bring multiple devices that require more bandwidth. Standardized testing puts even more strain on the system, as it requires many students to connect at the same time. The policy also brings security concerns to the forefront, as schools would have to place a high priority on making sure each of these devices was secure.

Scharon Harding of Channelnomics quoted Nichole O’Brien, branch manager of information engineering solutions at Dynetics:

The challenges that we face are often the maturity of the thought process in the school system in that they have to have the right infrastructure in place, and so helping them understand the impact that all of those devices will have on their general network can be a  challenge sometimes. When you allow BYOD you’re not increasing it typically one to one, you’re probably increasing it at least two to one.

Makerspaces, which are physical or digital spaces where students can collaborate on similar projects, were barely mentioned in last year’s report, but “came on the radar due to grassroots support from a passionate community.”

Other trends that are expected to enter the mainstream are 3D printing and adapted learning technologies, which are programs that adjust to the individual student as they learn. Further in the future, microcredit, badges, and wearable technology might find a place in schools, the report says.