The Problem with PODs

Yesterday I talked about using student's Personally Owned Devices (PODs) in schools and how great it is to have students use their own technology instead of schools having to buy it for them. Today I want to talk about the down side of this idea.

When I spoke about this idea in Florida this past January there were a few hecklers in the crowd (most of them from IT). Most of their questions revolved around getting sued.

Here were their concerns and my answers.

Damage: "What happens if a student breaks one of these PODs at school, or it gets stolen?"
My 14 year-old son takes a $200 graphing calculator to school everyday and no one expects the school to buy him a new one if it gets broken or stolen. I don't think we should expect anything different from a $300 iPod Touch or an iPad.

Bad Things: "What if the student has something bad on their POD, like naughty pictures that they downloaded at home and now are showing them at school?"
What would we do if a student had a pencil and drew a naughty picture? Or, what would we do if a student brought a printed picture of something inappropriate to school? We would send them to the office and they would get into trouble. Same thing with PODs. What I think the root of this concern is that by law students need to use "filtered" Internet at school, but their Internet might not be filtered at home so schools worry they could get into trouble. We are only responsible for the Internet AT SCHOOL. Let's compare this to books; at school we make sure students have appropriate books to read but we have no control over what they might have access to once they leave our building.

Viruses: "A student could very easily and accidentally bring in a virus that could take out the entire school's network."
The answer to this one is easy. Don't let them onto the school's network. The only thing that PODs should be able to get on to is the Internet. Have them store everything in the cloud and not on your school servers.

Games: "If we allow PODs they will just play games on them every chance they get." 
Again, back to the pencil and paper -- we don't allow student to play tic-tac-to every chance they get, the same would go for PODs. NO GAMES DURING WORK TIME. Instead use games as a motivator, once the student's work is done and approved, then they can have a little free time. You would be surprised at how much more work will get done in our schools.

The bottom line is that PODs are coming wether we like it or not they are the new school technology that could save our budgets. So at least we should prepare ourselves by being ready with policies and practices for when they do come.