BYOD & E-Learning: just the latest buzzword or the next game-changer?

• 3 min read

BYOD, “Bring your own device” refers to individuals getting their personal devices to work, usually mobile devices, and using these to perform work activities both in and out of the workplace.

BYOD is a growing trend using employee-owned devices within businesses. Smartphones are the most common example but employees also use their tablets, laptops, and USB drives in the workplace. BYOD is part of the larger trend of IT consumerization, in which consumer software and hardware are being integrated into the enterprise.

BYOD - Bring Your Own Device & E-Learning

The primary objective is to empower employees with the productivity tools, applications, information and trainings they require to do their jobs.

What does BYOD mean for you and for your learning strategy?

Having multiple devices means using multiple operating systems. You need to be able to support Apple, BlackBerry, MS Windows and Android as a starting point. This generally means not using Flash, as it is not supported on Apple or some Android devices. The most straightforward way of hitting all three operating systems at once is to build a mobile web app. This works much like a website, allowing learners to access it over the intranet via their mobile web browser. Most mobile web apps are built in HTML5 and are accessible across all operating systems. The good news is that many authoring tools can now output mobile web apps.

Another alternative is to produce what are known as ‘native apps’. These tend to be more powerful than mobile web apps, as they can use the built-in features of each operating system. Some authoring tools will let you design the content once and generate native apps for multiple devices; the downside is that not all authoring tools will allow that.

BYOD - Bring Your Own Device

Having multiple devices also means dealing with multiple screen-sizes. Further to considering a variety of operating systems, you will need to think about the different screen resolutions available for tablet devices, PC monitors and smartphones. This may sound like a design nightmare, but using the technique of ‘responsive design’ will aid you in mastering this.

Responsive design involves designing the content once but specifying how it should be laid out for different screen sizes. Depending on the device used, the content will then automatically organize itself into the most appropriate layout for that device. Some authoring tools have responsive design ‘baked’ into them, while others do not, and only target PCs and tablet devices with larger screens.

BYOD is strongly connected with Mobile learning

Incorporating mobile devices into your learning standard may well address some learners’ needs, which have previously gone unmet, and which may lead to significant returns on investment.

BYOD - Bring Your Own Device & Mobile Learning

There is no doubt that the rise of multi-device learning and mobile learning has the potential to change the way we learn. We know that the changing landscape of mobile devices means that learners’ expectations are also changing. Learners expect to be able to do their learning activities on their phones or tablets just as easily as they would on a desktop computer.

BYOD key milestones and advantages

  • Allowing flexibility for Businesses
  • Ensuring consistency for your learners
  • Managing bandwidth demands
  • Reduce material cost

Disadvantages of BYOD

  • Employee may carry different devices with different capabilities and power
  • LMS (Learning Management System) must be programmed and designed correctly to ensure Training programmes are viewed properly on different screen sizes available on smartphones and tablets
  • We could take the risk that employees damage or lose their devices which means having issues with the assignment of a new device as there is no warranty at Enterprise level

Planning and Budget Considerations

Like most initiatives that involve technology, there are necessary costs and schedules for supporting a BYOD program. Budget items to cover in your planning include:

  • Adequate capacity for internet access including the wireless infrastructure, and LAN wiring and switches
  • Cost of purchasing or leasing school-owned mobile devices
  • Faculty and staff training
  • Acquiring new network management tools and support resources

A mobile learning program may require a continuous effort for complete transformation that may take a few years, but smaller deployments can be made within just a few months. Start by looking at your overall technology plan to find where already-budgeted upgrades, such as computing and network equipment, can be leveraged to support mobile learning initiatives.