Mobile Learning 101 – BYOD vs. 1:1

If you’ve read anything about mobile learning lately, it’s likely that you’ve encountered one or both of these two concepts: BYOD and 1:1. These terms have been around for a year or two, but here are some definitions for the uninitiated:

In a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) or BYOT (Bring Your Own Tech) scenario, the user provides their own devices which are then on-boarded to the school’s existing network infrastructure.

In a 1:1 scenario, the school provides devices to students for their use, and sets the limits of where the users can take the devices, i.e., for home use.

Generally speaking, these are the two paths available to schools looking to add mobile learning devices to their curriculum. There are numerous advantages and disadvantages inherent in each type of program.


As you can see, the pros and cons are fairly balanced. Whether one type of program is superior over the other has been hotly debated in education circles:

“Our board is against BYO because of equity issues—40% of our students are on free or reduced-price lunch. It’s more expensive to go with 1:1 [programs] and we’re not a wealthy district, so we had to sacrifice. But that’s the model we’ve chosen.”
—Mike Watson, Chief Information Officer, Tippecanoe School District, IN

“Even though we have a very high free and reduced-price lunch count in the Philadelphia Public Schools, our students still have better technology in their pockets than we could possibly provide for all of them at school. The main equity issue, in my opinion, is Internet access and that’s where we can help the most.”
—William Hite, Superintendent, The School District of Philadelphia, PA

Even though these two educators have drawn totally different conclusions about very similar situations, neither of them is wrong. The reality is that there is no “right” way to implement mobile learning – the best solution will always be the one that fits the realities and the objectives of the school or district in question. Read more educators’ opinions about BYOD and 1:1 in this article from Tech & Learning, which is a great resource for learning about technology in education. Check out their list of 10 Tips for 1:1 or BYOD and help your customers make the best possible choices when implementing mobile learning.

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