BYOD in Universities: Challenges and Changes In The Learning Environment

By on February 22, 2016

Just a few years ago, any student found looking at his or her mobile phone in class would have been asked to step out. Why? Using a phone in class was a clear sign the student wasn’t paying attention. Today, universities are not only encouraging students to bring their own tech to class, but are also defining policies for their proper usage. How is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) changing the learning environment and what are the challenges being faced?

Reduced Attention Span
Students enjoy unlimited access to university Wi-Fi services; it’s hard to monitor what they view in the classroom. Reduced attention span and a high level of distraction result. Some universities block access to social media sites, known porn sites and other popular online hangouts. Still, it’s hard to monitor what students enjoy online while they’re supposed to be paying attention to the lecture. This is an ongoing problem with no immediate solution in sight.

The Ongoing Struggle Between The ‘Haves’ And ‘Have-Nots’
BYOD certainly reduces the financial burden on universities – they no longer have to purchase smart devices for their student population. However, BYOD brings another challenge to the classroom – this one of inequality. Not every student can afford to buy expensive smartphones, tablets or laptops for quick resource access. That means that some students can access learning media from the university, while others are deprived.

Wireless Network Limitations
Studies indicate that many students connect to university Wi-Fi via more than one smart device in class. Even with a sturdy wireless network, providing fast net access to thousands of students creates a huge strain on university networks. With an average of 2.1 smart devices per student, not even top universities are able to satisfy bandwidth requirements.

Device Compatibility Issues
Consider this – students use a multitude of tech devices using a multitude of OS and hardware configurations. All university learning apps, presentations and tutorials may not be compatible with the software makeup of all these devices. That said, university professors lack the technical know how and the time to fix these issues. So even with BYOD, not all students are able to benefit from the learning material.

Security Issues
Universities are concerned that their servers and internal networks will become victims of student pranks, and viruses of all sorts. There’s the fear that university databases might be targeted for malicious code. Also, students may download sensitive, university-proprietary data. This is a critical concern and top universities have full-fledged IT departments working around the clock to ensure security.

Technology has certainly revolutionizing the way students learn at universities. That said, BYOD still represents several challenges and even serious concerns. University managements need to come up with stricter policies that govern BYOD usage within classrooms. Using Virtual Private Network (VPN) will effectively limit student access to sensitive university databases and online libraries. Limiting BYOD to one device each will help balance bandwidth requirements. So the conclusion is that while BYOD has been a great boon to students (and to universities), it comes with multiple challenges, and many changes to the way students learn – both positive and negative.

Sonal Maheshwari

Sonal Maheshwari loves pursuing excellence through writing and has a passion for technology. She has successfully managed and run personal technology magazines and websites. She currently writes for , a global training company that provides e-learning and professional certification training. The courses offered by Intellipaat address the unique needs of working professionals. She is based out of Bangalore and has an experience of 5 years in the field of content writing and blogging. Her work has been published on various sites related to Hadoop, Big Data, Tableau Training in Bangalore , Cloud Computing, IT, SAP, Project Management and more.