I had an epiphany the other day when I read Scott McLeod's post on his Dangerously Irrelevant blog, Are BYOD programs simply an excuse not to fully invest in 1:1? He cited Gary Stager's blog post where Gary called BYOD the worst idea of the 21st Century. (Both posts and asspciated comments are worth a read.) The ephiphany came as Scott's post helped pull several disparate events together. In no particular order, they are:
- On a discussion list, an IT director in an international school mentioned he had a plan to give an iPad to each teacher with a PC desktop in each classroom. However, the new superintendent vetoed the idea — the computers, not the iPads. I recall reading that and thinking the superintendent didn't have a clue about the capability of an iPad.
- My team has iPads. The other day we set in a conference room to finalize scores on grants. We were tracking the information collaboratively in a Google Spreadsheet. Some of us had brought iPads; some had brought laptops (personal laptops at that time; we were doing BYOD at work). When the work started in the spreadsheet, those of us with iPads quickly fetched our laptops to work on.
- On various lists I read about all the plans schools have to put in iPads and the struggle the IT departments with iPads are having in managing them. I finally I realized the iPads were intended as 1:1 programs.
The real enemy of 1:1 is not BYOD; it's the iPad. The iPad is sexy, seductive, and single source. It makes people think it's cool, and it overshadows anything of like ilk. But it's not a computer. It's not a production environment. We finally had risen to the point in computing where platform didn't matter as long as the computers had power. Plenty of open source software was cross platform, and the computers could be, you know, programmed! Then along came the iPad. All of that progress wiped away - if you don't have the iPad app, you are dead in the water. And you can only get apps that Apple thinks you should have.
I see BYOPD, or BYOL (bring your own laptop) if you prefer, as bringing the true power of computers to the classroom, while allowing schools to purchase real computers for those who truly need one so the school can be 1:1. But schools heard the Siren call of the iPads and snatched up these expensive, glitzy, closed devices. Yes, iPads will be the death of true 1:1 laptop programs and children will be poorer for it. And there is no app to fix that.