Australian schools are faced with the controversial decision about whether to allow students to bring their own smartphones and tablets to school as the computers supplied by the federal government reach the end of their lifespan.
Students in year 9 to year 12 received a computer under the Rudd government's $2 billion ''digital education revolution''.
The computers in schools program was a key plank of Labor's 2007 election pitch, with students promised a ''21st-century toolbox'' by the end of last year.
However, a report to be released on Tuesday says some schools are allowing students to bring their own devices to school given the ''uncertainty and unsustainability of funding for one-to-one student laptop programs''.
The report, which was funded by Dell, said interest in the trend known as BYOD – bring-your-own device – had peaked this year as the sustainability of the national secondary school computer fund and digital education revolution came into question.
''Educators … are concerned with schools' ability to continue providing computing devices to students should, as it seems likely, funding models for one-to-one student programs be withdrawn in 2013-2014,'' Joseph Sweeney from Intelligent Business Research Services says in the report.
''Everyone is looking for the 'one approach' that alleviates all of the headaches of providing digital education (changing policies, duty of care, maintenance etc), while consuming as little of the scarce ICT budget as possible.''
However, the report says there are contrary views about students bringing their own devices, based on educational philosophies as much as technical issues.
It is more suitable for older students, for example, who are more adaptable and do not need to use exactly the same software.
''A key element for BYOD decision making is how much control of content and software the teachers need in the classroom.''
Security fears and cyber safety risks were also often raised. The report said most could be addressed through good policy and security procedures.
The president of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, Frank Sal, said it would not be feasible for schools to continue providing computers when the funding dried up.
''How are we going to provide IT in schools? Bring-your-own device is a possible way of the future but I don't know enough about it,'' he said.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald