Here's how a secondary school in the Netherlands is harnessing the benefits of having students bring their own mobile device to school (“BYOD”), while minimizing the drawbacks that too often block these initiatives.
The Dutch college Bonhoeffer, which has 4,500 high school students, launched its mobile initiative in 2011. As a starting point, the establishment chose to host only the iPad. Its fleet now reaches 200 devices belonging to the school and used by teachers, and 900 iPads belonging to students. They bring their own tablet (BYOD) from the first year of the course. According to Femke Gerritsen, teacher and ICT coordinator at the school, “Thanks to the iPad, we can create an interactive and interesting learning environment in which young people learn, create and present their work through multimedia. "
Students and teachers can use their tablets to consult their emails, download educational applications and e-books and access their digital workspace (portal). Teachers use the collaborative environment It's Learning to make available resources and correct work. For their part, students use it to share information and do their homework. Teachers encourage participatory learning by assigning demanding tasks that can be done with the iPad. One of the students questioned explains: “For me, the best collaborative project was the construction of castles in Minecraft in a multi-player mode. The game is used to develop students' skills in science and technology, while exploring interests in the field of engineering.
The school uses AirWatch, a mobile device management solution, to configure policies and settings on devices, distribute applications and secure access to school networks and resources. The solution makes it possible to limit students' access to certain applications and features within the school, such as the camera or FaceTime, so as not to lose their attention. The wifi makes it possible to activate geo-barriers which allow or restrict functionalities only within the school, because the devices belong to the students.
For the start of the 2014 school year, we expect to welcome nearly 1,800 new iPads. The school plans to use Apple's Volume Purchase program to acquire a large number of apps and make them available to students in a personalized app store for the school.
The school is also reportedly considering expanding its BYOD program to include Android and Windows 8 tablets in the near future, allowing students to choose the device of their choice for classroom use.