BYOD or Bust

BYOD-MastheadIn the fast paced world of the 21st century in which we live, technology is constantly evolving. Nearly the entirety of the world’s information can be accessed  from the palm of your hands, with the use of devices like smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Due to these fairly recent advances in the way we acquire knowledge, many universities and companies are acknowledging the benefits of these devices, and are beginning to integrate them into the way they teach, organize, and structure their boardroom and lecture halls. Never one to fall behind, USC Upstate has started the BYOD initiative, encouraging students and professors to “Bring Your Own Device.”

While it is typical to find college students toting a laptop across campus, it is only fairly recent that devices like the tablet and iPhone have been accepted as a familiar classroom commodity. They may not be as prevalent, but they can be found, and even more so are the smart phones that have, in recent years, developed the capabilities of note-taking, information sharing, and in-depth research. While some professors and students are hesitant in embracing these new modes of information, many are finding ways to integrate this new, convenient platform in their study and classrooms.

Dr. George Williams, an Associate Professor of English here at Upstate, finds interesting ways to incorporate modern technology into his classroom. When asked why more students and professors haven’t yet embraced new technology in the classroom, he replied, “I think that students should use whatever works best for them, and for a lot of students, that’s just paper and pen. It takes practice to figure out how to use smart phones/tablets when you are used to using paper and pen.” As for why he encourages the use of technology, he stated, “It is more efficient, easy to share, and collaborate when using technology, and increasingly, those are the skills people need in the world beyond the classroom.”

A lot of students have also joined the modern device revolution. Senior, Secondary English Education major, Monique Austin stated about BYOD, “I do use it, I have an Ipad that I carry with me to just about every class. I think it’s a good way to keep up with everything without having papers everywhere.” She believes that it helps her organize her work and keep up with her demanding class load because she explains,  “ I have a lot of English classes, that require novels rather than textbooks, so I can download them and  access them more easily on my Ipad. “

The Bring Your Own Device campaign, isn’t without it’s share of issues. There are a number of concerns with the initiative that have been raised by students and teachers alike. Sophomore Education Major, Heaven Briggs, chooses not to bring her devices to class citing reliability issues as her main concern,  “Writing your notes is more reliable. I will always have my notes, but sometimes my laptop may not connect to the school wifi, or it may not be charged. I feel more secure having a hard copy of my notes.” A lot of students share her sentiments on this matter. The consensus against BYOD is that digital note-taking just isn’t as reliable as good, old-fashioned note-taking. Many find that the school wifi availability is not reliable enough to just leave your pen and paper at home.

Limited resources are also a factor in play that have halted the BYOD program. A lot of students here at Upstate to do not have access to new technology, like tablets and Ipads. However, devices such as digital cameras, laptops, and tablets are available for rent through the University, and students are encouraged to make use of this great opportunity available to them. You can find out more about this lending system, by calling the ITS department, or speaking with a librarian on campus.

BYOD may have it’s bugs, but it is certain that Upstate is headed in the right direction. Technology is a valuable resource from which we can learn and grow, and our university is making great strides to encourage us to utilize the equipment made available to us. They are here to advance the way we learn, and provide us with skills and materials that will benefit future career possibilities, which at the heart, is the goal of any education. At the Carolinian, we support BYOD, and encourage students and professors to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity Upstate has provided us with, to bring our devices into the classroom, and modernize the way we think and learn.