BYOD to School

February 17, 2014

Mobile devices in schools are no longer just cell phones and gaming devices sneakily brought into classrooms by enterprising students. Today, tablets and even smart phones are key strategic tools used by many school districts as cornerstones of curriculum dissemination. For example, Los Angeles school district is promising that soon, all of their 640,000 students will be able to get their hands on an Apple iPad.

Schools are seeing dramatic increase in student scores in mathematics using online resources like Khan Academy which offers over three thousand videos in which Students work through interactive challenges at their own pace, while teachers have access to interactive dashboards to monitor and assess student progress.” Great increases in homework, test scores and student motivation have been seen as at schools like Oakland Unity High School in Oakland, CA with use of tools like Khan Academy. These programs are exciting and possibly the right way forward in educating a new generation of students. But at the end of the day these programs require fleets of devices and powerful networks to be effectively utilized.

The question begs to be asked: “How are school districts’ IT services managing these new armies of mobile devices?” Security concerns, network load, IT capacity and user-freedom are all common issues to enterprises concerning mobile fleets. Do these concerns look any different for schools handling mobile fleets? It turns out, no.

Just as enterprises everywhere are turning to Bring Your Own Device programs in hopes that they will solve what are believed to be insurmountable internal difficulties, school districts are now considering the same BYOD strategy. With students’ ownership of mobile devices exponentially growing school districts are attempting to leverage educational technology goals with the incredible ownership growth:

Usage of non-dumb devices among those in the 13 to 17 year-old range has reached 70 percent, a nice 12 point growth over September last year. A prodigious 79 percent of all users aged 18 to 24 are also toting smart phones, contributing to the 64.7 percent total of all US mobile owners who have now traded their feature phones for something more advanced.Engadget

A type of program like Bring Your Ow Device’s chief attraction is that it promises a lot of results with minimized effort; the main promise is that an organization is getting a “set it and forget it” type of wireless management. For school districts which do not place a premium on internal IT management, this could spell danger if the BYOD program is not set up well on the front end. A word of warning, when expectations are not set correctly for a BYOD program, hemorrhaging cost, inefficiency and even critical data loss can result instead of the hoped for growth of ease.

Below are wise practices being employed by school districts today that have successfully adopted BYOD programs are:

  • Establish intelligent network permission systems that know whom is on what device and what they are allowed to access.
  • Require automated device registry for devices brought in to the classroom to save IT from manual register of all devices.
  • Prepare for orders of magnitude increase in current server and network capacity if you are providing bandwidth, storing critical data internally and allowing permissive access.
  • Disallow devices access to the network if hot spot functionality is enabled on a device. Bring Your Own Network situations are rife with IT headaches.

At the end of the day the goal of increasing mobile technology in the classroom is to allow teachers to educate students in a more efficient and effective manner. Those putting in the work to educate our children should not be troubleshooting devices issues or figuring out the complexities of network connectivity.

If you are considering implementing a BYOD program in a school please do not hesitate to contact mindWirless with your questions or concerns. We are the industry leader in enterprise mobility solutions. Contact us today!