Insight: Manage mobility in the classroom

Imagine being able to deliver PowerPoint presentations directly to students’ iPads!

One of the hot topics in business these days is mobility and bring-your-own-device. More employees want to leverage mobile devices (including their own) in the workplace, but schools are also starting to pick up on the mobility trend.

A ZDNet article highlighted a specific case in which mobility yielded some significant advantages in the classroom. The Katy Independent School District in Texas started deploying smartphones to students in various grade levels, as early as fifth grade. It may sound a little crazy, but they did take precautions (such as turning off the phones’ texting features), and teachers commented on the significant difference in student engagement.

The Waterbury Observer recently highlighted another case in which Chase Collegiate School embraced BYOD instead of forbidding it. In fact, the school upgraded its bandwidth to adjust to the growing number of laptops, smartphones and tablets being connected to the network.

“We firmly believe that our role as educators extends far beyond standing in front of a classroom and reading from a book. Mobile devices are a gateway to a wealth of rich, interactive knowledge – and when used properly, these new technologies can help enhance the overall educational experience of our students,” said W. Scott Temple, director of technology for Chase. “As a direct result of our decision to support these devices, however, we knew that we would also need to dramatically increase our network bandwidth, and we wanted a provider that would give us the ability to scale up quickly whenever needed as our cloud computing demands continue to grow.”

Using technology to enhance learning

Well, there is a small catch. BYOD and other mobility trends in schools face the same challenge they do in business: Maintaining productivity. Teachers can’t have students checking Facebook on their iPhones during a lecture. Traditional device and application management solutions can provide a great deal of control, but MDM technology can fall short when it comes to actively enhancing learning. Teachers need a more robust way of managing activity on a wide range of devices – iPads and other tablets as well as PCs.

Insight: Classroom management technology

Insight goes beyond the scope of traditional MDM by giving teachers tools to enhance classroom learning, while also taking care of many traditional MDM needs.

Teachers can use Insight to monitor activity from all connected devices, including iPads, iPods and iPhones. It includes the ability to block applications from running, and allows educators to monitor internet usage. Worried about students using Google to search for things they shouldn’t be? Set up a keystroke alert to bring certain words to your attention immediately.

Insight also allows teachers to quickly capture students’ attention. If students are all working on something and it’s time to switch back to lecture mode, teachers can use Insight to blank screens and mute sound, as well as lock out keyboards and mice.

Insight is compatible with computers running Windows XP-32, Windows Vista (32 and 64-bit), Windows 7, as well as Mac OS X. However, the software also provides enhanced support for iPads and iPhones, with applications such as the Insight Teacher’s Assistant for the iPad. Teacher’s Assistant offers additional features to enhance Insight, such as the ability to send multiple choice questions directly to the iPad, so students can be quickly polled.

Fully leveraging mobility in the classroom is about more than controlling student behavior, it’s about gaining some ‘Insight’ into the way students are learning and being able to respond accordingly. Insight is more than a typical device management tool, it’s a classroom management platform.

Kate Beckham

Kate has been lighting up the blogosphere for over 5 years, with a keen interest in social media and new malware threats. When not sitting at a café behind her Mac, you’ll usually find her scouring the racks for vintage finds or playing guitar.