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MirandaNet Fellowship Casestudy

Membership List | Publications | Research | Specialist Area List | Braided Learning Ejournal

Swapping to BYOD?

Swapping infrastructure and swapping teachers…

Luk Vanlanduyt

Year of posting: 2013


As one of those responsible for EduBIT, IT-coordinators and managers in education, I’ve already seen a lot of advantages of using a central framework for discussions. EduBIT is a Belgian non-profit organization that supports schools in integrating IT in the educational sector. We developed a central framework and are happy with this. In this contribution I discuss 2 points: swapping to BYOD on level of infrastructure, and secondly swapping to BYOD and the impact of the skills of teachers.


As one of those responsible for EduBIT, IT-coordinators and managers in education, I’ve already seen a lot of advantages of using a central framework for discussions. EduBIT is a Belgian non-profit organization that supports schools in integrating IT in the educational sector. We developed a central framework and are happy with this. In this contribution I discuss 2 points: swapping to BYOD on level of infrastructure, and secondly swapping to BYOD and the impact of the skills of teachers.


Let me start by pointing out the importance of infrastructure and start the discussion: swapping to BYOD is it technical and financial possible? There are so many technical evolutions and innovations that make it not easy to keep up and understand the effects they can imply. 

In our latest research we made a calculation of several infrastructure types and the total cost of ownership of ICT. We compared a classic classroom with FAT-clients (normal desktop computers) with other infrastructure types: thin client computer classes, BYOD classes (e.g. tablets), a mixed classroom with FAT-clients and tablets, a classroom with interactive whiteboards and classrooms with only a beamer. 

Headmasters and IT-coordinators have to make a lot of decisions. The issue here is that most of them don’t really have technical skills. This causes the risk that they might take wrong decisions and use solutions that can only be used at home and not on a school.

The calculations show us that the investment of time and costs for a classical IT-infrastructure (300 FAT desktop computers for 1000 students) costs more than a BYOD-infrastructure with tablets! Costs of energy (in Belgium 300 FAT desktop computers will cost 5000 euro’s a year only on energy), but also the cost of managing 300 computers are the main reasons why the BYOD model is more profitable for a school compared with the 300 desktop computers. Assuming that parents will buy the tablet or laptop, we also calculated the costs for parents. We made a very thorough calculation: parents already have to pay for their computer at home and next to that, they also have other costs: books, paper, internet, graphing calculator (which costs around 120 euro’s), etc. In Belgium we figured out that if we add up all the individual costs for parents, a student would cost them 300 to 350 euro’s for all the necessary equipment. If a school decides that each student should buy his or her own tablet and the school is able to lower costs of books, copies, other paper and the graphing calculator, students can buy their own tablet (assurance incl.) at no extra cost.

The calculation is more complex and will be published in Belgium during the following days.

This calculation is very exciting. Nowadays, many people think that it’s too expensive to make such a big infrastructural change. In reality though, a swap to a BYOD-infrastructure has a lot of other positive effects in different areas. I would like to indicate some important ones:

  1. Students are more likely to take responsibility for their devices. They will have to learn to keep their devices safe and secure.
  2. Students have the possibility to use their device always and everywhere. They can record courses (there are always people who want listen to a certain course over again), they can produce content everywhere, etc.
    Ubiquitous computing isn’t the case yet in the educational sector.
  3. It’s a challenge for teachers to change their course structures and use IT in an attractive and effective way.
  4. Teachers have the opportunity to personalize educating and work on learning analytics. They ameliorate their own teaching and coaching strategy based upon the learning results of their students.
  5. The IT-coordinator doesn’t have to manage and maintain a large network of 300 old and unqualified computers anymore. He is able to put more time into the support of users. If a device stops working it mostly doesn’t concern a mistake from the school or IT-coordinator. Sometimes it’s an issue coming from the user him- or herself and then the IT-coordinator can help that person.
  6. The school can enjoy a more attractive and innovative image thanks to the students using a modern device. This image stands closer to the world than a school with old computers that barely work.

At EduBIT we use a framework where IT-policy (vision), infrastructure, IT-competencies, curriculum, school context and home context are related to each other.  


The calculation is very interesting because it starts from a technical infrastructure, but immediately concerns other issues as well. We can see that this matter opens up very interesting viewpoints and discussions about education, future, responsibility and the dreams of how life should be for teachers, students and parents. It opens up discussions: why should we come to school if we can study from our own house? Does a BYOD-infrastructure opens the gates to a system for more personalized education, feedback and communication with parents? What is the role of the teacher in all this? Which IT-curriculum do we need? Can we set up larger groups of people where several teachers function as coaches during a training session? What is the role of publishers? How can IT and BYOD stimulate and engage students? What kind of methods can teachers use, to avoid that BYOD would only be used for transmitting subject material by using PowerPoints?

EduBIT has made this calculation and in the same way, starting from our central framework, we’ve taken a look to tablets at school. A new guide is published and helps IT-coordinators and headmasters to organize a debate on why they should choose or not choose for tablets at school. In the guide we’ve mentioned all pro’s and contra's from a technical, pedagogical, organizational and financial point of view. 


Let's focus now on the ICT-competencies of the teacher when a school swaps to BYOD. First step is to look if we can ask a teacher to follow this swap and is he competent to this? Has he the skills to make the swap? For this question we can refer to the framework for ICT-skills ICT-competencies for teacher trainers we developed at the ENW AUGent in Belgium recently (22 march 2013).  There are several areas. But we decided not to speak about ICT-competencies of one teacher trainer, but the document is more a list of skills that the whole organization of teacher trainers must have embedded. Every teacher trainer must contribute somewhere in this framework.




“ICT in the second degree” A Teacher trainer has to be able to contribute (explicit by talking about or implicit by learning-by-doing = example role) in the teacher training institute in such a way that the aspirant teacher will use in his later profession ICT.

If you look to this list of skill you see that normally a teacher must be able to make the swap. The most work will be to learn that a BYOD class infrastructure will open new didactical possibilities. The risk is that the teacher use the old didactical possibilities of ICT. Old possibilities were: use ICT for presentation (the old infrastructure was mostly a computer and a beamer to show something). The new infrastructure where all students use own devices is that they can use ICT to create, to collaborate, to make online exercises.

So BYOD is technical and financial not a big problem. The challenge is that the teachers need the necessary training and skills to use ICT in this new infrastructure on the most didactical effective way. The swap is possible and gives a lot of opportunities if the teachers make also a swap on the didactical use of ICT.

Luk Vanlanduyt, 12 April 2013

Luk Vanlanduyt started in 1992 as ICT-coordinator, stimulating to work together. Involved at teacher training institutes and ICT-projects. Start later with others with EduBIT: a practical centre (non-profit) for ICT in education, now with a prox. 450 members. Combines technical, educational and management topics. Wrote with colleagues: Guide for good ICT-governance at school level (2012), Writing a ICT-policy for schools (2013), Starting with tablets / 1:1/ BYOD at school (2013).

Partially also working on the association of the University for 15 teacher training institutes about ICT-competences for teacher trainers.  

In 2013 he started with the project INTAMIE (International Association for Managers and ICT-coordinators in Education) where organisations like EduBIT will share practical technical and management information about ICT and education. The role of MirandaNet is to assure the educational research. 

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