In the world of quickly changing technology, implementing a BYOD (bring your own device) program for students may feel like it could turn into a BYOB (bring your own beer) program for the staff planning the change.
Most of us are working with a shoestring budget and less-than-ideal staffing needs, so the mantra that gets us through our day-to-day operations is “work smarter, not harder.”
Our office runs lean and mean, meaning we don’t have several staff members trained as ExamSoft/Examplify experts. Even though students receive in-depth training during their orientation, the majority of faculty and staff are unfamiliar with what do when a tech issue arises. That’s why one of my favorite ExamSoft features is its Examplify iPad application. Not only is Examplify for iPad easy to use, but it’s also stable and easy to diagnose a problem, should one arise.
Our college tried to tackle the issue of hardware standardization by providing each student with a shiny new iPad mini upon enrollment. This idea was abandoned for a few reasons:
1. Students wanted their particular choice of iPad models.
2. There was too much administrative work to manage these college-owned devices.
3. It was too expensive to keep this program going.
4. It was difficult to sort out ownership of the devices post-graduation due to ostate’s procurement rules.
After discontinuing the iPad program, we decided to allow students to use any ExamSoft-compatible device. This option was not as easy as everyone using iPads, and because of the assortment of devices, resolving issues was not as streamlined.
Then, in fall 2016, students were required to purchase an iPad of their choosing and use it for every ExamSoft examination.
Since then, issues revolving around tech, continuity, exam integrity, and proctoring have been minimized drastically. I was able to put together job aids to assist the faculty proctor in troubleshooting, without involving our team, which improved our office’s productivity. Our disbursement of loaner iPads has also dropped significantly, with the majority of students needing only the occasional charging cable (though they’re reminded before every exam to bring a charged device—but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day).
Because of our office’s lack of understanding regarding the financial aid process, we had to delay this mandate for two years. Once we broke down the internal silos and discussed the rationale for an iPad requirement with our admissions team, we were able to quickly save all stakeholders hassle and headache. With proper discussion, planning, and pragmatic rationale, our team was able to cut its workload by 30 percent and focus on other important initiatives without any new hiring or role changes.
Here are a few of my best tips if you are considering implementing a similar program:
- Discourse is key. A good idea would be to form a committee of stakeholders who will anticipate challenges before they occur. Involving those who are tech savvy, regardless of their role in your institution, will be beneficial in implementing your program.
- Assign value to your proposal. How will your institution or unit benefit from the implementation? Will it free up time for other new and exciting projects? Will it reduce burdens on a specific person or team? Will it provide a positive way to reallocate resources?
- Be prepared for pushback. In academia it’s very common for there to be too many cooks in the kitchen. Be ready to answer pointed questions about your proposal and speak to the benefits of it. Additionally, understand that constructive criticism will be part of the discussion, and diplomacy goes far in gaining the support you’ll need.
- Take the lead. Once you have the blessing of your administration, it’s time for you to take the reins and develop the steps necessary to implement your proposal. This will mean further conversation with stakeholders, developing or revising your current assessment policies, and properly training your support staff to assist in troubleshooting on one standardized platform should the need arise.
Now, I’m proud to say our staff’s burgeoning BYOB (bring your own beer) program to get through the workday turned into a successfully implemented BYOD (bring your own device) program for students.
About the Author
Tim Sullivan, M.Ed, Director of Academic Affairs and Registrar, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, Chicago, IL Tim has been with the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) College of Dentistry, for almost 8 years. Working in academia was not on his radar initially, but he has embraced it fully and now is planning to start his PhD in Education & Curriculum this coming fall. Tim received his B.A. in Business from Purdue University and completed his M.Ed in Instructional Leadership & Design at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Prior to taking on the role of Director & Registrar, Tim was instrumental in researching classroom and instructional technologies that could benefit the College’s advanced interdisciplinary curriculum. He was one of the lead deployment specialists for ExamSoft back in 2013. Since then, Tim has used ExamSoft’s robust reporting data and tagging functionality to better guide faculty in question development, which in turn has increased assessment reliability and driven improved remediation procedures.More Content by Tim Sullivan