Supporting parents, supporting public schools

Bring Your Own Device

It is widely acknowledged that technology plays a huge role in students' everyday lives and should, therefore, be an integral part of their learning. However, for most schools, it is financially unsustainable to provide every student with state-of-the-art technology.

The $1billion investment by the Federal government, the Digital Education Revolution, in 2007 aimed to provide a computer on the desk of every upper secondary school student. The lack of a commitment to ongoing funding meant that as devices reached their useful life schools were having to budget to buy laptops for students, and educators had to come up with new ways to deliver a 1:1 computer-to-student ratio.

A number of West Australian schools have since implemented Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) / Personally Owned Device (POD) schemes.  BYOD is considered an attractive, cost-effective (for the school and Department of Education) method for establishing a 1:1 ratio; recognising that many students already own devices that are superior and more up-to-date than those available in schools. However, this places the onus on the family to provide an educational resource. This may disadvantage students from low-income families who struggle or cannot afford to participate and who, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, will be less likely to have internet access at home. We recognise that many schools and principals work hard with parents and the school community to ensure that students without a BYOD/POD are not disadvantaged. We also know that many P&Cs across the state have engaged in fundraising efforts targeted at the purchase of technology and devices to support students and schools.

Position

WACSSO calls for:

  • State Government to guarantee that no student will be forced to participate in a BYOD / POD scheme at school whether they are financially unable to, if they conscientiously object, or for any other reason.
  • no student to be disadvantaged if they do not have their own personal device;
  • an investigation into BYOD schemes to assess the problems and to remedy the issues, i.e. what is in place for families who can’t afford to participate or who can only afford old technology and the resulting digital gap; and
  • for State Government to ensure sufficient funding is available for schools to be able to deliver optimal technology based lessons, including supply of devices, hardware, software and network access.

For referencing and the full report, click here.