Project introduction and background information
Over the past years, there has been an increase in the use of technology in education. This is no exception in WUR. Education in WUR is in constant transition and the way it is being provided is also changing. Lecturers are increasingly using various software (e.g. SPSS, ArcGIS, R, etc) to support education. However, currently, these software and technology are mainly used via wired EduPCs in education spaces and permanent study areas on WUR campus itself. As such, there is little flexibility for students to decide where and when they want to learn.
In order to create more flexibility in this aspect, WUR, as part of its strategic plan 2019-2022, aims to stimulate innovative and flexible education and will do this by “adjusting education buildings, classrooms and facilities to support educational learning and teaching methods”. One of the strategies proposed to achieve this is the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) project.
The “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) project started in 2019, with the aim to facilitate the ability for students to study independent of time and space. Under this BYOD concept, students will use their own computer in class (in place of wired EduPCs in PC rooms). This means that students will either have to download the software locally onto their own laptops or access the available software via a server on their laptops. In order to find out how to proceed with the transition from EduPCs to laptops, as well as test the feasibility, a few trials were conducted in Period 2 of the 2019/2020 Academic Year (between October and December 2019). A project team from WUR’s Education and Learning Sciences group was also enlisted to carry out an independent evaluation of the project trials.
Objective and expected outcomes
The objective of this project was to investigate the perceived effects of the current BYOD trials on students and teachers in order to provide university policy recommendations. The evaluation team also identified four aspects to look into – 1) Technical issues that arose during the trials; 2) Effects of the trial on students’ learning and motivations; 3) Effects of the trial on teachers’ planning and didactics for the course; and 4) suggestions from students and teachers. To carry out the investigation, online surveys and focus group discussions with students and interviews with teachers and course coordinators were conducted and subsequently analysed.
Results and learnings
From the investigation, the evaluation team concluded that:
- There were some technical issues that needed to be dealt with;
- Students were generally positive about the BYOD concept and while it was difficult to say if BYOD affected students’ learning, results showed that it might lead to more individual involvement next to cooperation with their peers;
- Teachers became aware that they had to make adjustments to some aspects of their courses to utilize the full potential of the BYOD concept;
- A variety of laptops presented a variety of challenges for teachers (i.e. different screen sizes, different languages on students’ computers, different laptop settings, (possibly) encroaching into student’s personal space etc).
Based on the conclusions drawn from the investigation, as well as suggestions collected from students and teachers through the focus groups and interviews, the following recommendations were made:
- Implement it only if it works technically
- Flexible design of BYOD rooms
- Standardization of laptops
- Make a clear distinction between BYOD and distant learning
- Use the existing course set-up as the starting point for BYOD
- Stimulate teachers to consider the possible added value of BYOD and support them in changing aspects of their courses that would promote this.
Please have a look at the PDF at the downloads.