'Bring your own IT' is a great idea, but can you trust your kids?

Opinion

'Bring your own IT' is a great idea, but can you trust your kids?

A particularly enlightened CIO might be willing to risk his network and let employees bring their own devices to work, but how would you feel about trying the same exercise with a classroom of 14-year old kids?

A survey conducted by analysts at Intellect ahead of the BETT show, which ran earlier this month, suggests that 50% of teachers are actually okay with the idea.

In fact, according to D-Link's recently appointed education director John Botham, they seem cock-a-hoop at the prospect.

Says John: "That pupils' own devices will be incorporated into lessons is inevitable. the headteachers I speak to want to use the personal devices of their pupils now as it has obvious benefits to reducing the impact of the upcoming budget cuts.

"Take a recent example given to me by a headteacher that half the sixth form pupils at one school in North Wales were given iPads for Christmas, but were forced to use outdated school equipment for a design project for biology."

John makes the point that IT in schools across the country is in danger of stalling as a result of budget cuts, and as this is one area where the UK (astonishingly) has a substantial lead over many other places, we have to keep the investment up. I agree completely with this.

But I have to wonder if allowing schoolkids access to their own technology during the school day and on the school's network is actually inviting disaster?

Kids being kids, they will attempt to game the system, and given their legendary technical aptitude they will probably succeed. Schools don't have IT departments in quite the same way as businesses do.

It's a worrying scenario, and one I'm not sure schools are considering. 

I would assess the risks very carefully, and maybe think about beefing up basic security, before going down the route of allowing teens their own devices in lessons.

This was first published in January 2011

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