The Importance of Student Voice: Lessons from Successful BYOD Roll-outs

Over the last 18 months we’ve spent a lot of time working with schools in varied states of 1 to 1 technology implementation.

From schools who have successfully been running BYOD for a number of years, to schools with 1 to 1 device programs (iPads, MacBooks, Chromebooks often being the devices of choice) to schools just embarking on the exciting but challenging journey.

Along the way we’ve had lots of conversations with teachers and schools about their lessons learned in moving to a 1 to 1 technology implementation and have discovered a number of common themes.

This post represents the 2nd of a series where we will share the lessons learned and best practice strategies we’ve uncovered from working with schools who have made the move to 1 to 1 technology implementation or BYOD.

You can read our first post on Student-Led Genius Bars here.

The Importance of Student Voice

Student ownership

An overarching theme we’ve heard time and time again in our conversations with teachers and schools is the importance of student voice when making the the move to 1 to 1/BYOD.

As Ricky Campell-Allen, the Director of the Centre of New Public Education has noted:

“Too often education is something that is done to students, not with them. Students spend 195 days a year in the classroom – they know what matters in education.”

While it may seem that students want to use devices in the classroom, from countless classroom observations and student interviews, this isn’t always the case.

Often, many students (like anyone) are reluctant to embrace change – and moving from pen and paper and physical books to paperless on a device can represent a big change for students.

Additionally, most students typically associate their computer, laptop, tablet or mobile as purely for entertainment – for Facebook, Youtube and playing games. And not for study and school.

And this is even despite the Digital Education Revolution and 1 to 1 laptop program.

As a result, it’s absolutely key to give your students a central voice in the move to BYOD.

How can you do this?

Some great ways we’ve seen this achieved has been…

Survey Your Students

Survey students

It’s important to start by understanding the current attitudes of your student body – how do they feel about the potential move to BYOD?

Are they excited about using devices in the classroom, or do they have concerns?

The purpose and benefits of the conducting a survey are many:

  • Allows you to get an understanding of the attitudes of your students
  • Enables you to identify the concerns or challenges from a student perspective (so you can consciously address these)
  • Enables you to identify your ambassadors within the student community as well as your potential ‘nay-sayers’
  • Importantly includes students in the process and gives them a sense of ownership over the potential move to 1 to 1/BYOD

Establish a Student Advisory Council

Student advisory counci

A great way to give students even more ownership and voice is to select a group of students from your school to act as a representative advisory council that you and your team can consult on decisions around the move to BYOD.

Use the results from the survey you conducted to select a truly representative group of students – from passionate ambassadors who are excited by the potential of using devices, to the nay-sayers who appear to have concerns about the move.

Why does establishing a student advisory council work so well?

  • As your school makes decisions students play a key role in shaping these decisions and what their education looks like.
  • Having a representative advisory council enables you to before any decision is made get a really good litmus test on the likely response from your student body
  • Students on the council become advocates for the move to BYOD and share this excitement with their peers laying the groundwork for a positive student body adoption of the change

Choice of the Device

Choice is a powerful thing.

Ever had to do something before that you had no choice over.

How did you feel?

Mandating specific devices has the potential to remove for students the power and potential of choice – and as a result their ownership of learning using devices.

In schools with successful BYOD programs we’ve often seen student choice over device as being a key principle in successful student response to the move.

So give your students a choice (within the constraints of specifications around your WIFI infrastructure).

Empower them to play a key role in choosing their own device – and owning their learning.

Establish a Student Led Genius Bar

genius bar school

As you start implementing your BYOD roll-out – establish a student led Genius Bar.

What’s a Student Led Genius Bar and how does it work?

Read out first post in our Lessons from Successful BYOD Roll-outs series on Implementing a Student Led Genius Bar here.

Have a specific question about the move to BYOD? 

Leave a comment below, or shoot us an email at hi[at] and we’ll write up a response as part of our Lessons from Successful BYOD Roll-out series!