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The significance, opportunities and risks presented by BYOD for digitisation strategies in the European education sector
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The European education sector is facing a period of continuous digital transformation. As is the case in other areas of our lives, there are also far-reaching changes occurring in the education sector as a result of the latest technological advancements. The driver of this change is not technology in itself, but is rather the optimisation of existing structures that is made possible by technology and the creation of new possibilities. A multitude of valuable opportunities are being opened up, particularly in terms of the way education is used, accessed and made available.

However, these opportunities also come with a number of risks particularly in relation to investment costs. For example, creating the required technical infrastructure is one of the challenges that need to be faced. Procuring hardware, software, high-performance internet connections and processes present both organisational and financial problems. A study conducted by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2017 concluded that €2.8 billion is needed to provide all schools in Germany with adequate IT equipment that would make it possible to deliver modern education provision. This challenge does not just affect schools in Germany but the whole of the European education sector. The lion’s share of the estimated €2.8 billion would be required to procure end-user devices which would cost €800 million. [1]

The systems need to be maintained on a continuous basis after the digital infrastructure has been initially set up. Whilst the highest costs are associated with procuring the end-user devices, a large amount of money also needs to be apportioned to machine maintenance as the lifespan of equipment that is in permanent use is limited. Depending on the durability of the equipment, the lifespan of a notebook computer in professional use is statistically approximately 2.5 to 3.5 years.[2] This situation is exacerbated by the increasing number of people receiving an education in the European Union. The number of people studying has risen by 2.94 million from 2009 to 2013. An increased demand for end-user devices is also linked to this rise.[3]

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative offers a way of reducing costs whilst simultaneously increasing the possibility of counteracting the challenges outlined above. BYOD is a concept which encourages individuals to use personally owned devices in their places of learning and work and in examination processes. The end-user devices are usually laptops, tablets and smart phones and they are set up to securely access the internal systems of a company or organisation.[4]

A reduced need to procure high numbers of devices presents an opportunity to avoid a significant chunk of the investment and maintenance costs. However, the integration of personally owned devices in processes carried out in educational institutions introduces a variety of risks. A key prerequisite for the use of BYOD is therefore the creation of high-performance infrastructures and systems, a comprehensive security concept, and didactic and pedagogical concepts which will keep pace with continuous developments in information technology.

BYOD can significantly increase the feasibility of digitisation strategies. The study carried out by the Bertelsmann Foundation in 2017 reveals that it would be possible to expect a decrease in costs of 28.6% for the procurement of end-user devices. This is why it is important to avoid simply focussing on the risks because the challenges that must be faced along the way to creating and continuing to be able to offer modern education provision in Europe are great. It is also worth considering the fact that learning and examination methods which are currently used are also vulnerable to manipulation and deception. It is important that legal, ethical, pedagogical and technical security concepts are now being developed, particularly in relation to the provision of electronic examination processes, in order to guarantee access to modern education provision and to safeguard its validity, quality and legal certainty.

[1] Hayes, Bob; Lathleen Kotwica (2013) Bring Your own Device (BYOD) to Work – Trend Report, Elsevier Inc..

[2] https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/182759/umfrage/durchschnittliche-lebensdauer-von-normalen-und-robusten-notebooks/

[3] https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/160339/umfrage/anzahl-der-studenten-in-deutschland-und-der-eu/

[4] https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/fileadmin/files/BSt/Publikationen/GrauePublikationen/IB_Impulspapier_IT_Ausstattung_an_Schulen_2017_11_03.pdf

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22 de November de 2017 in General Tags:
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