Hiroshima University launched a BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) policy in academic year 2015. Students are requested to bring their own laptops to the campus so that the lightweight devices can be used for their everyday coursework and research activities. Combined with the campus Wi-Fi network and the university’s Learning Management System (Bb9), the BYOL-based environment could be utilized as a simplified and handy alternative to the costly and “heavyweight” CALL system.
The aim of this paper is twofold: First, it examines what can and cannot be done in a BYOL-based CALL environment; second, a survey was conducted among 12 first-year students who took both an English course in the CALL lab during the first semester, and then another English course in a BYOL-based non-PC classroom during the second. Comparing the two environments, they were asked to point out the benefits and defects of each as well as to what degree they were satisfied with the latter.
It was found that multimedia and WBT (Web-Based Training) materials could be easily accessible through the LMS in the BYOL-based environment; however, the existing CALL lab was superior to the BYOL-based environment in managing oral activities, often involving communication in pairs or groups. In addition, the limited number of Wi-Fi connections and lack of power supply in the current non-PC classrooms are highly problematic. According to the survey results, while students generally appreciated the benefits of the BYOL environment ― such as the devices they own being easier to handle than the PCs in the CALL lab ― they are not quite convinced of the significance of having to carry their laptop into the classroom every week, since very few courses they take integrate BYOL into their classroom activities.