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Classrooms Jump Aboard the BYOD Bandwagon

Learn critical considerations that need to be made as more student- and faculty-owned smartphones and tablets find their way into the classroom.

Classrooms Jump Aboard the BYOD Bandwagon

by Pragati Chaplot Jain | March 04, 2013

It didn’t take long for smartphones, tablets and apps to replace books, binders, and notepads as the most preferred learning resources of our time. Today’s students consider access to wireless networks, online courses, email exchange and digital textbooks prime necessities to go along with their gadgets. Consequently, student faculties have begun exploring different technologies for pupils that expedite the learning process, increase student engagement and encourage creative thinking. Some educational institutions run classes on Google Applications so that parents can get the same experience their children are getting in the classroom. This Presta infographic expounds the changing times at educational campuses.

Add Your Own Device to Your School Supply List

A prime driver of the change is the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. Many students, staff and faculty who bring their own devices use multiple devices on campus. For example, a student may use his Android smartphone to send a course registration email, access the course management system from his iPad and then use his laptop later in the day to create a presentation or complete their assignments. This increases pressure on the IT staff to ensure the secured state of the campus network, devices and content.

Configuring Wi-Fi, email, and VPN on the growing fleet of BYOD devices in a fast, efficient and uncompromising manner remains a key challenge. While Apple Configurator gives IT administrators the ability to perform basic device management functions, such as rolling out an image on iPads, it fails to support advanced device management requirements on different devices (iPad, Android devices, laptops or Macs).

Another daunting challenge for educational institutions is content distribution and management.  How can professors and teachers share research content and intellectual data with their students securely? Can e-books, videos or any course content be distributed in a secured and reliable way on different BYOD devices?

Ensuring security of assets in an open environment with less mature BYOD owners is of the utmost importance. While on campus, how can IT restrict their students from accessing certain online content, smartphone features like camera or productivity-killing apps? How can they protect their networks from jailbroken or rooted devices infested with potential malware and detect open security loop holes?

Managing BYOD In and Out of the Classroom

Various surveys and reports have indicated heavy BYOD adoption in schools and colleges. What these reports often leave out is that the IT staff struggles to effectively manage these devices. They may not be sure which solution empowers them to manage their BYOD and in-house devices in a uniform way without abstracting their heterogeneity. That, or they are confused by the numerous options in the market and the solution deployments are slow.

It is important that educational authorities define mobile policies that restrict the use of certain mobile applications and mobile features on campus. For in-house devices, it is important that the value and security of the iPad and other university-owned devices do not get compromised as they are transferred student to student, year after year.

With all these imposed complications, how can educators harness the power of the BYOD movement? What are the recommended best practices education institutions must support? How can educational institutions with limited IT budgets resolve these technical challenges? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

Make sure to read part two of this blog series, which covers common solutions for managing mobility in education.

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Mobile Device Management for Education

Despite the boon to learning, the pragmatic concern of ensuring the availability and security of information on all these new and different devices is integral to the mobile learning experience. With cloud-based Mobile Device Management (MDM) schools have learned that class doesn't have to end.

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