Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Technology Colleagues,

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is becoming more widespread in K-12 and higher ed, and also in adult education. I noticed, for example, that the COABE Conference in Pittsburgh in March 2014 will have at least one BYOD session where participants are asked to bring their own Internet-accessible device (e.g. a smart phone, tablet, or laptop). The proliferation of Internet accessible devices in adult literacy education may be good news, but it also raises some interesting questions and challenges for our discussion here. Below are five areas we may want to discuss. There may be others, too. I invite you to pick one area (or more if you like) and share your thoughts, resources, answers and solutions. I am eager to hear your thoughts.

1. BYOD Policies. K-12 needs BYOD policies, and increasingly schools now have them. Do we need them in adult basic education, too? If so, why, and what should the policies include? For example, some K-12 BYOD policies include preventing students from making audio or video recordings of classmates. Do we need a policy like this in adult literacy education, too? Why or why not?

2. Access. How can teachers handle the situation where a majority -- but not everyone -- owns or has access to a handheld Internet accessible device? Ask students who have them to share their devices, for example in groups of 2-3 students? Purchase devices to lend to students in the classroom? If so, what should adult education programs and schools buy? Tablets? Smartphones? Netbooks? Laptops?

3. BYOD Maintenance and Repair Issues. If adult education programs and schools do lend students Internet accessible devices, what should they anticipate will be needed for maintenance and repair?

4. Separate Wireless Routers. Will a school or program need (a) wireless router(s) and ISP account(s) separate from the regular program/school ISP? If so, why, and what is a relatively inexpensive solution to creating this?

5. Mobile Learning Content. What are some good apps and lesson plans in numeracy, reading, writing, English language learning, science, social studies, health literacy, financial literacy, and other areas for adults using Internet accessible devices in a classroom?

David J. Rosen





I am very interested in this topic and will share with you our BYOD journey this past year, which has been an exciting one.

It all started when we somewhat innocently decided to give out the password to the wireless network to a few students that requested access, that was last fall, by the spring we had tied up our routers with so many students with access, our routers were not setup to handle such traffic.

With little knowledge of BYOD, I did some research and created a BYOD pilot plan for the 2013/14 school year.  It was very exciting.  The pilot plan included staff development, new wireless routers, and 20 tablets (Nexus 7) including a storage and charging case. 4 ESL and 2 ABE/GED classes were to participate in the pilot.  The first staff development session (9 hours over 3 days) was held at the beginning of the summer, the instructors took home a tablet to become familiar with it and research ways to integrate the use of a device (tablet or smartphone) into their classrooms.  The instructors were very enthusiastic about pilot.

The pilot for the fall term included: 1.) staff development - three-hour group sessions every month and individual training scheduled as needed 2.) the roll-out of the BYOD in the classrooms (two activities) led by the Tech Coordinator 3.) Scripted classroom integration activities piloted by instructor with the Tech Coordinator assisting  4.) Devices integrated into the daily learning 5.) Review and feedback - Overall it was a great success.  Students were engaged in the lessons, eager to learn using devices. Many purchased their own devices and I am expecting many more to come back after the holiday with a device.

Addressing your points:

1. BYOD Policies.  We updated our Technology Usage Policy to include the usage of the wireless network with student owned devices.  We are adding a statement that the audio and video recording of instructors and classmates are prohibited unless otherwise authorized by written consent.

2. Access. We purchased a classroom set of tablets, they are stored in a central location and are checked out by the instructors.

3. BYOD Maintenance and Repair Issues.  Maintenance of the system and app updates still needs to be addressed.  Also the cleaning of the screen.

4. Separate Wireless Routers. We purchased 2 Aerohive routers, one for each floor of the buidling and setup 3 networks, one for staff, one for school owned devices and one for guest devices.

5. Mobile Learning Content. We are using only free and preinstalled Apps (Android).  Note that not all of the apps used in the pilot are free or available on the Ipad/Iphone, this is one of the reasons we purchased a classroom set of tablets. Instructors are free to research and install apps as they find them.  A more formal way of sharing Apps may be developed.


I would like to hear about other programs experience with BYOD.


    DId some people have their own devices and others use the Nexus tablets?   (If everybody used the tablets, then it doesn't sound like "bring your own..." )   It sounds like an *excellent* way to deal with the "some have their own and some don't" issue, though.  

     I'm also noticing here at the community college that router traffic is an issue sometimes.  You do have to have login information to get on board (a fellow once stopped me in the parking lot on his way out to his car -- I think he was a vendor -- to ask where the nearest place where he could get wireless access w/o logging in was...) .  

    I think it's iimportant to be proactive and have basic privacy policies, too, about recording/ videoing classes.   I'm not sure what will actually happen in that direction since with technology like the LiveScribe smartpens a person can be recording rather discreetly (tho' there is a little light on the pen that says "REC" when it's in action).   

We have defined BYOD as bring your own device if you have one otherwise we will have a device for you to use.  In the beginning I had students bringing in devices but not knowing how to use them as a learning tool.  They did not know how to download and install apps, they did not know the passwords, a few brought in devices still in the packaging wanting help setting them up, and .....  With patience and student-to-student assistant we had everyone up and working.  This semester I will developing a more organized method of handling the students that need the tech lit skills.

We will continue our pilot through the winter/spring session, including the staff development and see how this all "shakes out".  It is a very dynamic project.

Let me comment that we are a regional adult ed program about 1000 academic and 1000 enrichment enrollments a year.

We will be offering Intro to Tablets classes in our enrichment program for the first time this spring.


Great question, David, and great description of your pilot, Lisa! I'm very encouraged to see this creative solution. This year, OVAE has made arrangements with the non-profit organization Connect to Compete to address device and internet access for our students and programs.

Connect to Compete is a non-profit 501(c)3 entity  managing Everyone On, an effort that works with local cable companies and a wireless providers to offer localized low-cost Internet service and low-cost refurbished devices to Americans who are currently disconnected from the Internet. Individuals in 14,000 low-income zip codes are automatically qualified to receive the best deal on devices and service and more service providers are being recruited.

To address technology access for all adult education students and their families, and to harness the power of technology for teaching and learning, OVAE has developed a bulk adoption strategy with Everyone On to create a pre-qualified opportunity for youth and adults enrolled in adult education courses to purchase low-cost Internet service and refurbished devices. Adult education teachers and programs are also eligible for the best deal in their area under this agreement. Try the unique-to-adult education URL to see the best available deals in your zip code:

This agreement with Everyone On has the potential to address the digital divide for low income, low skilled youth and adults, and to increase capacity at programs to deliver personalized, adaptive learning experiences to accelerate learning.

Watch LINCS and the OVAE blog for news of a revamped sign-up website, promotional materials to share with students, teachers, and programs, and much more discussion about this exciting opportunity early in 2014.

Lisa, obviously your program is a front-runner in this area! Can you comment on whether you might be able to expand the pilot given the Everyone On opportunity, and if so, in what ways? Also, how are teachers integrating technology into their teaching?

Best, Heidi


This is great news that OVAE's bulk adoption strategy may make computers and Internet access available inexpensively to income-eligible adults and older youth enrolled in adult education programs, and also to adult education teachers (who themselves are often low-income). Does this mean that low-income enrolled students or adult education teachers who may not have children will also qualify?

David J. Rosen

Yes, David, Everyone On is expanding beyond the business model of working through free and reduced school lunch families. Often the wireless carriers (instead of the cable companies) in an area are the ones that can provide service to those individuals without children in the home. Everyone On is actively pursuing more wireless and other service providers, so we can watch for even more options in 2014.  Heidi

Hello Heidi,

What an exciting initiative!  I am also encouraged to hear of Lisa's enterprising program.  Do you see opportunities for expansion of the initiative into community corrections and reentry programs?  It seems a perfect fit.  I look forward to hearing more and to checking out the provided links.  Thanks for sharing such great information!

-- Heather

Thanks, Lisa. It looks like you are an "early adopter" of BYOD in adult literacy/basic education.

Re: Policies

  • I wonder if you could share a link to your BYOD Policies document. Others might benefit from your thinking.
  • I wonder if others reading this have BYOD policies in their programs and, if so, if they could share them too.

Re: Maintenance.

One problem I am aware of -- and don't yet know of a good solution -- is tablet management software (presumably on a computer) that would allow cleaning (program owned checked-out) tablets at the end of the day. Anybody know of a good solution to this problem?

Re: Mobile Learning Content.

  • Of the pre-installed content you use, Lisa, what do you find most useful?
  • I am developing lists of free or inexpensive adult education mobile aps and hope to have these lists available (free) sometime soon. I welcome suggestions, especially in reading, writing, numeracy/math, science, and digtal literacy.

Anyone else care to share what you are (thinking of) doing with BYOD?

David J. Rosen




Our school computers have "Deep Freeze" software that erases everything daily (and/or on reboot, I'm not sure). While it does mean people have to learn to save files to a thumb drive or the "Thaw Space" folder, which *does* mean students lose their work, it has overall been a very good thing (and IMHO taught good data-backup habits to students).   

Susan and others,

I know that many adult education programs use Deep Freeze to clean their networked computers. Do you (does anyone) know if Deep Freeze can be used with an electronic tablet network? For that matter, is there software available to network tablets? If so, for Android tablets only or also for iPads?


David J. Rosen


Hi Lisa,

I am the Subject Matter Expert for the LINCS Correctional Ed Group and am also very interested in BYOD/devices in classrooms, as well as the Everyone On initiative Heidi mentioned.  Corrections classrooms are just beginning to have access to handheld devices such as tablets.  While they are for the most part asyncrounous or completely off-line devices they are the stepping stones to what incarcerated students will encounter in adult ed classrooms upon re-entry into their communities.  I would love to hear more about your professional development in introducing the BYOD program into your classrooms.  I think correctional educators are going to experience a pronounced "culture shock" when these handhelds enter their classrooms and I don't think there are very many programs in place to help them adapt.  Any additional information you can provide about the staff development and classroom integration would be greatly appreciated!

--Heather Erwin


Your question about access hits upon the biggest potential obstacle to the opportunity for using mobiles in classrooms. In most international and K-12 efforts, I have seen, funding has covered devices. And although I have witnessed many adult ed programs in the U.S. purchasing tablets, right now and for the foreseeable future, it seems to me that a good percentage of programs may not be able to afford tablets.

I think having a cartful of tablets for the classroom is the way to go if possible. Among the obvious advantages is that teachers will feel more comfortable managing one kind of device and operating system. Yet, for most programs and classrooms, BYOD will have to be the approach. This is not all bad.  With its challenges will come opportunities.

Unless lending of tablets allows students to take them how it doesn’t create the opportunity of learners using the computer in their pocket. In a mobile learning project World Education piloted in three states this year, we found the majority of adult learners have smartphones. When content and activities were able to be accessed on their phones, homework (or “phonework” as some called it) teacher reported it was completed much more often. So we found BYOD can help support a flipped classroom approach.

 I also think a BYOD classroom calls for creativity by teachers, since not all apps are on all phones. This challenge could encourage tech integration that is not so app-centric but introduces problem and project-based learning, where students learn to transform their own device into a tool for learning.

What other challenges or opportunities do you see with BYOD?

Steve Quann

World Education

Hi everyone, it looks like this discussion trailed off a few years ago. I'm interested in picking it back up. The BYOD program Lori described sounds like a great effort. Lori, would you be able to share outcomes or resources?

I'm currently working with a team to support educators with new technology in adult education classrooms. We have a few experiments around tablet navigation. I'm curious to see if others have lesson plans or instructional material that walks students through each step of using a tablet. I'm open to hearing other BYOD approaches as well. Thank you!

Thanks Alecia for this great question about "lesson plans or instructional material that walks students through each step of using a tablet." It would be great to hear from Lori, and from others as well. If you are a teacher who uses tablets with students who are new to them, what do you do? Have you found online instructional videos on YouTube, Vimeo or elsewhere? Have you created your own screencast videos or presentation slides? Do you use or adapt print materials? Do you only use direct, face to face instruction?  Do you use an electronic whiteboard? Something else?

Alecia and I will both be eager to hear your answers.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology Group


Hi all, 

Currently, I am teaching a developmental edcuation course at a local community college. The college uses CANVAS as their Learning Management System and faculty are required to keep the majority of their coursework in the LMS. There is a level of consistency amoung instructors as to how information is accessed by students. (Students will know where a class syllabus is located, how to communicate with a teacher, where their grades are located.) The majority of my students lack technology access at home and they only access they have is through their cell phone, and the majority of my students struggle with understanding a learning management system. Additionally, mobile devices display the LMS differently, with sometimes showing modified features. 

What are you seeing with students, mobile devices, and success with various learning management systems? My experience is that the mobile device such, as a smaller screen cell phone, makes an LMS difficult to manage. 

Any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions is appreciated. 



With highly portable devices (smart phones and tablets) there is a lot of variability. For Android, different screen sizes, different vendor implementations, different versions of the operating system, and different browsers will make it impossible to assume that the same resource will behave the same way on two different devices. I've had a small amount of experience with iOS (not cost effective when compared to Android or Amazon's modified version), but, when once trying to move resources from a laptop to a learner's smart phone, discovered that iOS does not like to play nicely with other operating systems.On the other hand, I haven't run across any compatibility between Android and Windows. With older smart phones, there might be problems with accessing the Internet because they're running 3G (or even 2G), or because their WiFi isn't that good. And then there's the problem with a smart phone's storage being filled to capacity with photos and apps.

In theory, BYOD sounds good, but for it to work, you might need a way to specify the devices the learners can use, which, for many reasons, is not a good option.

Students can download the Canvas app from the app store on their smart phones and then the LMS will be a lot easier to maneuver and more compatible with their particular phone. My community college  ESL students have not  had any problems doing this except for one student who had a Blackberry phone. 



Hello Kathy,

I recently started a company that introduces a program and app to help students utilize technology in the college classroom.  I am meeting soon with community college and four-year college administrators to discuss integrating technology in non-technical college courses to introduce critical thinking.  This goes a little bit beyond learning management systems, and I am excited about the meetings I have coming up.  It is my intent to show how technology, which is not going away, is a skill that many students bring to the classroom as a first-time college student.  It is my aim to introduce the program to channel higher retention while giving students the reputable exposure, critical thinking, and become more marketable.  I'm going to keep reading the posts to see how technology use has played a significant role in adult learning from other members.


I know Canvas has made lots of efforts to make their materials accessible from mobile devices.   It's still a *serious* challenge to figure out navigation.  

I've dabbled some in Canvas and I *love* the online community.   However, there's serious "expert syndrome" so when something is brought up as a barrier, the "solution" is "better training."   (For instance, in some situations you have to click on a button that says "submit"  in order to *start* typing in an answer.)   Usually the assorted 'challenges' have some kind of workaround but my folks need to be learning content, not the LMS... it seems to be a "six of one, half a dozen of the other" situation, though, as D2L has its own issues.

Hello Agnes,

Could you briefly describe what padlet is? Are you teaching ESL/ESOL students? I am interested in hearing more about your collaborative projects. Are there examples of these on the web that we could see? I am also interested in seeing examples of classroom communication (although I am not sure what that means exactly), book discussions, essays, and your peer evaluation process. It looks like you are doing some great things with Padlet that others, including me, would like to learn more about!

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integratong Technology group

I use google classroom with my students. We use videos, vocabulary and phonic activities and graphic organizers with Kami. Assessments with Google docs,and presentations with google slides.

The students learn how to use the different tools from google classroom during the first sessions in class this help them a lot because when they come to class sometimes they know only the basic technology skills and when they start to work with google classroom they feel overwhelming.

I use ZOOM to meet them too.


Ideally,  the learning institution will have laptops for student use.  I have found, however, that many of the laptops are outdated and in some cases not functional.  I project the lesson on the smart screen and have the students follow along with their tablets or Smartphones.

Ideally,  the learning institution will have laptops for student use.  I have found, however, that many of the laptops are outdated and in some cases not functional.  I project the lesson on the smart screen and have the students follow along with their tablets or Smartphones.