Students using tablets

BYOD in the Edutainment Era

The rise of BYOD in the classroom has unleashed a new generation of student.

Born into the world of shiny smartphones, this student is an unstoppable tech-savvy machine armed with a tablet and ready to use it. As digital natives, they see online communication as a basic human right, and casually carry instant access to masses of information everywhere they go.

Realistically, our education system needs to adapt in order to get the most out of these students.

Could dynamic learning be the answer?

After all, there’s no reason why a student capable of memorising the entire periodic table from a YouTube song isn’t equally as capable of remembering the difference between meiosis and mitosis. It’s simply a matter of how the information is presented.

Equipping classrooms for BYOD schemes is the way forward, but teaching methods can be slow to evolve – currently, more attention is often focused on implementing infrastructure than on actually involving personal devices in lesson plans.

Once the engineers have all gone home, and your students sit with tablets at the ready, here are just some of the ways to explore the full potential of your BYOD scheme.

Dynamic learning

Many forward-thinking educators have already begun to experiment with the wealth of technology available through BYOD.


For example, QR Code generators can provide links to educational content on-screen for students to scan with their devices. Another frequent favourite is the online classroom response service, Poll Everywhere. This platform can be used with a projector screen display to set multiple-choice or open-ended questions, where students can text answers and see the poll update in real time. The advantage of polls is that they allow everyone to participate instead of merely calling on individuals. Quizzing all of the students at once encourages retention of the material, whilst enabling the teacher to see the performance of the whole class.

Apps can be incorporated into learning too – most notably iTunes U, an app containing educational podcasts from credible resources. Pupils can pause and replay information in their own time, at their own pace of learning. The art of embedding lessons within familiar forms of entertainment – such as apps, podcasts, or texting – has become known as ‘edutainment’, and has proven effective for translating course material into the language of the digital native.

Preparation for the digital workplace

The thought of life after education can be daunting, especially now that so much of our world is based on technology. As it advances, the skills needed to survive in the job market are changing. For example, digital-age literacy, effective communication, and high productivity are all considered core competencies for today’s graduates. The new generation of students need to know how to succeed in the technologically-driven workforce.

Regardless of which field of work they choose, students need to be adaptable to change and comfortable in a dynamic environment. Integrating laptops, tablets, and smartphones into the learning environment means that students are coming into contact with a wide variety of software and hardware devices. This introduces them to the methods of their future, and gives them experience of which device or app is best-suited for completing a certain task. They can also take advantage of the available technology to check their writing, and pursue real-world issues alongside their learning.

Becoming more organised

Organisation is one of many crucial ways that students benefit from BYOD integration. When it comes to making notes, files saved on electronic gadgets are infinitely easier to re-read at exam time compared to massive folders full of scrawled notes and illegible diagrams. With tablets, students can use NotesPlus to make notes, tag notes on Evernote, record audio, use a capacitive stylus to simplify handwriting, and sync notes as PDFs to GoogleDocs. There’s even mind-mapping software available for the particular benefit of dyslexic students. These documents are then synced to the cloud for them to pick up later, saving both documents and time. Your students may forget physical notes and textbooks, but they’re unlikely to part willingly from their mobile devices. By keeping all notes, textbooks, and essays on their device, they can use the same one both at home and in class to stay on top of their education.

Encouraging responsibility

Our education system has always valued analytical, uninterrupted thinking. That’s why a concern with BYOD is the potential for distraction and diminished attention spans. However, students were scrolling through their phones in class long before BYOD became a reality – the only difference is that they can now be used productively as well, to clarify doubt or look something up relating to the discussion. This could even encourage student engagement in a task, because they enjoy using their devices.

BYOD is an opportunity to motivate students to take control of their own learning. It requires discipline on their part to resist the call of Angry Birds – it’s up to them to use the technology responsibly. They’ll also be more motivated to take proper care of the device if it belongs to them, and ensure that it works properly by downloading their own software updates, thus eliminating the need for constant IT assistance.

Device customisation

Students are typically well-acquainted with their own devices. Fortunately, familiarity with a device is thought to make learning more efficient, since people tend to invest time and effort into customising their device to suit their own needs and preferences. Through BYOD schemes, students are no longer restricted to school or centre-owned equipment, but free to favour different devices for different reasons. This is particularly relevant with the ever-increasing variety of devices to choose from, as laptops and handheld devices become more affordable.

BYOD can be a sure-fire way to keep your institution up-to-date with technology. Consumers are constantly being introduced to new and improved technology, and where schools may not be able to keep up with the latest models, students undoubtedly will.