Monthly Archives: September 2012

From Chronicle of Higher Ed – "Bring Your Own Device" Policies?

“Bring Your Own Device” Policies?

September 19, 2012, 11:00 am

Some folks on my campus lately have been discussing the merits of adopting a “bring your own device” policy for students in the classroom.

As I understand it, this kind of policy had its start in the business world, but is now starting to make inroads in education. Essentially, rather than equip everyone with the exact same hardware and software, an organization allows people to bring their own to access the network and to get their work done.

I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I’d like to see more student use of laptops (and/or mobile devices like smartphones and tablets) in the classroom. On the other hand, I know that not all of our students can afford their own laptops (or smartphones or tablets) and would be at a disadvantage compared to the students who can.

It would be possible to add an additional technology fee for students to pay and to use that money to fund the purchase of such devices, but that’s just more money out of pocket for students who are already financially strapped.

This is where I’m interested in hearing from others. What kind of policy does your campus have? Are students required to have a laptop? If so, how do they pay for it? (Out of pocket? Deep discount campus purchase? Rolled into their student fees?)

Please share in the comments!

[Creative Commons-licensed flickr photo by Personeelsnet]


Showing 11 comments

Sort by Follow comments:   by e-mail   by RSS
Real-time updating is paused. (Resume)
  • adam_smith 22 hours ago

     I just don’t buy the “can’t afford” claim about Laptops. You can buy a perfectly decent (though not great) laptop for less than $400 – e.g. I see on Amazon right now a new Asus with Windows7, 4GB Ram and 500GB Harddisk for $369. With some gentle care, you can make that computer last 4 years. That’s less than $100/year or 10% of the estimated yearly supplies/materials at your university:… I don’t think you can expect people to have tablets or smartphones with >50$/month contracts. You can expect students in 2012 to own a laptop.

  • I agree, but I think you can expect students to have a tablet as well. They can be had for less than the cost of some textbooks. My guess is many students will get more use out of the tablet, too…

  • I can assure you that a significant portion of the students on my campus (and on other campuses, though that is not the case on all campuses, certainly) cannot afford to spend $400 on a laptop.

    (Updated to add: My campus is not but )

    (Edited by author 15 hours ago)

  • How are they able to afford books?  My wife spends more on books per semester than a computer would cost for 4 years.  I think as long as financial aid programs will fund laptops and books – this problem could be easily solved.

  • fourhats 14 hours ago

    I go the opposite way:  devices are banned in my classroom.  So no, the institution doesn’t have a policy.

  • adam_smith 11 hours ago

    I can’t really argue with that, of course. For perspective: In 2010, nationwide, 88% of undergraduate students owned a laptop… I still think compared to the cost of books – $800-1200/year, personal expenditures – ~3k/year, and tuition – 9-10k/year, all according to the uscupstate website – $400 for a laptop sounds like pretty small fish.
    Since you ask about institutional policy – on the (top 50) campuses I’ve spent time, laptops aren’t explicitly required, they are just assumed, but obviously that’s a very different situation from yours.

    Edit: that’s in reply to… Disqus messed that up.

  • I appreciate readers’ interest in this topic. I’m hoping we can get more answers to these questions: “What kind of policy does your campus have? Are students required to have a laptop? If so, how do they pay for it? (Out of pocket? Deep discount campus purchase? Rolled into their student fees?)”

  • A colleague and I conducted a survey of first year students this past year. Out of 244 responses from incoming students only 3 didn’t have access to a computer either in their room, or at home. Most of the students brought laptops with them. Doesn’t mean I see them in the classroom though and even when I do, they are rarely following the provided notes; they are on Facebook, or some other site. One student spent the entire time playing World of Warcraft in my class. I said nothing; she failed the class. 

  • tribblek 1 hour ago

    At the college where I taught for years (in Columbia, SC), we had a “no mobile devices -at all” policy.  This allowed instructors to prohibit mobile devices when they wanted to do so (many instructors just could not stand the constant non-academic use of these devices in the classrooms).  But for those of us to wanted our students to use them, we could choose to allow them.  Still… no one could mandate that students have them.  Not all of them are the young right-out-of-high-school students that we think of.  Many were in their 50s and 60s and just used a standard, non-web-enabled cell phone, if anything.

  • kchristo 2 minutes ago

    The veterinary program that my daughter was in provided laptops at a discounted price. Unfortunately, the machines were not advanced enough to run the required software very well. Plus, an addition group of tech support personnel was hired just to service these laptops at a cost of over $400 per semester.
    Let students get their own computers. They will surely be no worse off than allowing the bumbling bureaucracy to help them.

  • mgmillione 0 minutes ago

    This is a timely article in that our college is thinking about requiring students to have some type of mobile device to use as a word processor to write papers and to connect to the internet for research purposes. The college is small and does not have the room nor the money to invest in more computer labs, and it is difficult to reserve a spot in the lab since the computer classes use them for teaching purposes. Instructors have the same issue of not wanting students on computers doing non-academic work. The sooner software like Lan School comes out for wireless devices, the better

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


Will this give legitimacy to MOOCs?

From Chronicle of Higher Ed.


edX Offers Proctored Exams for Open Online Course

September 6, 2012, 3:11 pm

Students enrolled in a free open online course offered through edX will now have the option of getting their learning validated with a proctored final exam, under a new program announced today.

The nonprofit online-learning venture, founded by MIT and Harvard, will let students take on-site exams administered by the Pearson VUE service, which has more than 450 testing centers in more than 110 countries. Students who pass the tests will receive certificates noting that they completed a proctored exam.

Today’s news comes as academic integrity emerges as a hot topic in the movement to offer massive open online courses, known as MOOC’s. Dozens of incidents of plagiarism have been reported by students taking free courses through Coursera, a start-up company, as The Chronicle wrote last month. Another MOOC platform, Udacity, has also announced an arrangement to provide secure exams proctored by Pearson.

In a conference call with reporters, Anant Agarwal, president of edX, said the proctoring option would make the certificates “significantly more valuable.”

“From our discussions with employers and institutions, they certainly feel much more comfortable with proctored certificates, because these really reflect the students’ own work,” he said.

Three universities—MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley—will offer a total of seven courses through edX this fall. One fall course will have the proctored testing option, but edX has not yet disclosed which course it will be or how much the tests will cost. For the Udacity course, the proctored exam will cost $89.

This entry was posted in Distance Education. Bookmark the permalink.
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 7, 2012 in Uncategorized