Get ready for a new acronym: BYOT. Bring Your Own Tech. It’s a growing trend in the workplace, and even in some schools.

AT SCHOOL
One school in Georgia realizes the kids have the tech in their pockets and encourage them to bring it to class. The kids are taught how to research and appreciate that technology isn’t something that should be sneaked under their desk, but rather used openly and appreciated. Co-operation and interaction is encouraged and the technology opens up the conversation in class in a free-flowing way.

The teachers are also using the tech in the class as a way to teach them about the power in their pockets. They’re encouraged to use them responsibly, keep them safe, and handle them without dropping. It’s a case where giving kids the tools to interact in the modern world is greater than being afraid and just existing in the past.

Celly is a text program used in some districts to harness the power of the cellphones and the dextrous texting skills of kids as a way to foster group communication in the classroom.

Much like business struggling with budgets, schools are realizing they can rely on the students to supply the tech for education instead of having it all be state funded. If there are instances of poverty, those kids can be provided, but why buy a kid a laptop for school when he already has one at home?

AT WORK
Employees who bring their own devices to work (smartphones, laptops) will find themselves working up to an extra 20 hours a week. It’s a price many are willing to pay for increased flexibility in their workday. The 10 minutes they spend playing Angry Birds, or checking Facebook at 11a, is made up by the responding to emails, and going over reports before bed.

Bringing your own tech to work does, however, pose challenges for the workplace. Many work computers have virus protection, and are placed behind secure firewalls to keep things stable.

At our radio station, we’re allowed to bring our own computers and plug into the WiFi and intranet, so I asked our tech if it’s something he likes. He’s not necessarily a fan. He said it’s like bringing a friend to work who you say is a good guy, but he ends up being a drunk who punches holes in the walls. Bringing outside computers on to the work network always poses a security risk because those computers aren’t put through the same security.

Still, if employers want employees doing more away from the office, it’s a risk they’ll have to put up with.

My wife has an iPhone for pleasure, a BlackBerry for work. She’d love to have just one device, and some employers are finding that listening to their workers makes for a happier work environment. The main reasons companies implement BYOT policies is to improve work efficiencies and make employees happier.

BYOT RULES

1. Don’t run extra programs in the background on the work network.

Sharing big files over torrent sites, downloading music, or update operating systems are things that can drag down the whole work network. The more data chugging through a pipe will create a traffic jam, so stick to work stuff.

2. Keep your system updated.
Corporate IT runs updated software and virus checks on the work computer, do that to your own system. It’s common sense for your own safety, and for the security of your workplace.

3. Keep your private stuff private.
When you access an open network, not only can you access shared folders on the network, but any folders you have shared on your system can be accessed. I was at a hotel in Iceland last week and spent an afternoon listening to someone else’s cool iTunes library that they had left open and accessible to the network.

4. Remember it’s a privilege.
Offices are letting people bring their own computers because they want to keep employees happy. Remember how much it sucked waiting for your Windows 95 system to boot up? It’s a privilege to use your Mac to get the work done, so don’t mess it up for everyone.

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