A lot of discussion recently over the pros and cons of BYOD -- Bring Your Own Device. Some folks have been quite adamantly in favor or against.
For all the hub-bub, I think it's worth thinking about devices not just in relation to what kids do with them in the classroom, but rather how they relate to the connection those devices represent for them in the real world.
Fact is that we are living in a time -- not unlike those previous -- when one device will not do it all.
Context is the key.
If I am processing audio, I want to be on a Mac. If I am tweeting on the bus, I want to be on a smartphone. If I am reading the news, I want to kick back with a tablet. If I am learning a new language, my iPod will do just fine.
Does this make life more difficult when you are trying to find a "solution" for you school? Yes. Technology is not making life easier.
Again, context is the key.
Personally, I don't think that forcing a "school standard" will change the fact that for a lot of people, the smartphone represents their connection to the Internet.
Nor is giving me a laptop going to change the fact that I personally read better on an iPad. Nor is giving me an iPad going to change the fact that I type better on a laptop.
There is no "one device".
So why do schools pretend they can provide it?
My wife loves Android. I'm waiting for Windows 8. Fortunately, we can make decisions to experience technology in the way that is most conducive to the way each of us work. So, I can't afford a new fancy Mac to do high-end video, but luckily there is a community center in town that offers time on theirs. I take my iPad to the library, but when I want to do some heavy writing, I use the desktop PCs they have there running OpenOffice. In other words, between what we can provide and what the community can provide, we have a range of options for using devices to do what we need to.
Maybe instead of trying to find the "device" or the "solution", we should step back and think about our role in schools to provide a range of computing experiences -- and to allow kids to bring a range of computing experiences with them. This after all is fundamentally what a school is meant to do: provide a range of learning experiences and accept that kids bring a range of experiences with them.
One of the biggest failures of 1:1 computing in education is school's inability to understand that there is a difference between having a machine and having a lifestyle device.
One of the biggest potential failures of BYOD is thinking that kids can provide equity on their own.
My own approach as a decision maker would probably be to strike a balance whereby the school would provide machines capable of handling the task at hand and the students are allowed to bring their own devices to complement the tech infrastructure.
We need to integrate both into a learning experience.
We need a range of devices to handle a range of problems and provide a range of opportunities.