With the end of the federally funded free laptop program schools are quickly jumping over to the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. This policy creates unnecessary extra costs for parents and the Australian government.
One of the first questions that arose from the BYOD policy was how would this impact those family’s who were unable to afford to purchase devices. The president of the NSW Secondary Principals’ Council, Lila Mularczyk, answered this by stating that, “banks of devices would be available at all schools that chose to implement the policy so no student would miss out on using a tablet or laptop.” (Smith 2014)
However state and territory governments are already under pressure to provide funding to update practically useless computer labs. As Wright states within ‘Computer cash in lap of chaos’;
“The NSW government says it urgently needs a funding guarantee to begin replacing its 253,000 computers, and needs $100 million to maintain the 1:1 computer-to-student ratio into 2013-14.”
We also saw how much money was involved in keeping infrastructure and hardware up-to-date and working within the free laptop program.
When I was in grade 12 my sister was in grade 9 and was the first year to receive the laptops given out by the government. She took this laptop to school for about half a year and got it replaced three times, this is a similar story told by many students involved in the program. For the government to assume that devices will be a one off payment is absurd, devices involve regular updates, repairs and replacements.
Finally, Professor John Hattie from the University of Melbourne conducted an analyse in order to determine what factors have the greatest impact on student learning. Within this study he determined that ‘computer-assisted instruction’ (technology) only has a slight effect on student learning outcomes.
Therefore is it really necessary and worthwhile spending all this money on the BYOD policy? Taking into account the extra cost to both families and government, as well the lack of substantial rise in student learning, this policy seems to do more harm than good.
Jessica Wright. “Computer Cash in Lap of Chaos.” Sydney Morning Herald, 3 Feb. 2013
http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/computers/computer-cash-in-lap-of-chaos-20130203-2dr65.html (accessed 27 May 2014)
Alexandra Smith. “It’s BYO Laptop now as Schools End Free Program.” Sydney Morning Herald, 21 Feb. 2014.
http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/end-of-free-laptop-program-means-its-byo-device-now-for-many-high-school-students-20140220-334bz.html (accessed 27 May 2014)
Lodge, J. “As laptop scheme ends, what next for families and learning?” Essential Kids, 16 April 2014
http://www.essentialkids.com.au/older-kids/education-for-older-kids/as-laptop-scheme-ends-what-next-for-families-and-learning-20140416-36qxl.html (accessed 27 May. 2014)