Are you confused? I am. I've been following Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) discussions for quite a while and I implemented a BYOD program before anybody had really heard of the term. We certainly didn't use the term BYOD. Instead, we talked about the "y'all come" approach as the Harker School had called theirs that when they started in 2005. Others more recently called it the college model or the Starbucks model.
Then BYOD and BYOT terminology came along and co-opted everything!
The problem with the term BYOD is that it covers anything that a student brings. iPod? Check. Feature phone? Check. Smart phone? Check. iPad? Check. Laptop? Check. Tablet PC? Check. For general school use, is an iPod like a Tablet PC with an i7 processor and 8GB of RAM running Windows 7 with both pen and keyboard input? Not even close. Yet read blogs on the topic and you see both devices are effectively lumped together as BYOD.
So let's bifurcate the BYOD concept.
The first is BYOPD (Bring Your Own Powerful Device). This is a device powerful enough to create and collaborate with and that could be used in a 1:1 program. With such a device you can rapidly write a lengthy report, collaborate together in websites, create short videos, edit images or mashup audio, plug in peripherals, and share files in common formats with other powerful devices that may run a different operating system and be built by a different company. And it has to have a screen size suitable for doing all of this. When used in a classroom, it can be considered a powerful generic device that can accomplish the tasks in the class. For now, these requirements mean the device has to have a physical keyboard suitable for touch keyboarding as we aren't quite there with virtual keyboards or audio input. iPads with the newest release are almost there save for physical keyboard, which can be added, and netbooks, laptops, and tablet PCs are there. Okay, so some netbooks are a wee bit underpowered for video editing, but they are much closer to the criteria than any smart phone and most slate-type tablets.
The second is BAOD (Bring Any Old Device). That covers most everything else--smart phones, iPods, Nintendo DSs, generic slates, etc. These are good for information retrieval and a few other things. While I have trouble envisioning how they can be useful beyond information retrieval and as a kind of student response system (quizzes and clickers come to mind), I do know that people are researching these, so I'll hold off on judgment until I see the research. (The research involves institutional review boards, statistics, confidence intervals, and peer review, not a few random anecdotes posted in blogs as generalizations.)
Now, go back and read Gary Stager's blog BYOD – Worst Idea of the 21st Century? If districts implemented BYOPD with a plan for providing for equity for those who cannot afford a device, Gary's concerns can be addressed. (Okay, they will probably never be addressed to Gary's satisfaction, but they will be addressed for most educators who share his concerns.) But if districts implement BAOD, well, most of Gary's concerns are valid. If I, as a taxpayer, thought that iPods were going solve education, why would I put any money into education?
Using BYOPD and BAOD, let's look at equity, device capability, and funding.
Equity: BYOPD has the potential for inequity if the district is not committed to equity. However, if a district is committed to equity, they will be able to create a method for those who don't have a suitable device to either receive one, or to become motivated to purchase one. BAOD just isn't the same game and really shouldn't be addressed here.
Device capability: Gary is correct when BYOD is really BAOD and those devices are not powerful. Unfortunately, we will probably find quite a few classrooms across America that have a 1:1 program and are still stuck in "information-accessing, note-taking, and chat."
Funding: If the focus is BAOD, Gary has a point, but primarily because the schools don't have a vision of the future of school. If the focus is BYOPD, Gary is wrong IF the districts are committed to equity and have a vision of the future of school.