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MDM for Schools : What Schools Need To Know Before Rolling Out Mobile Devices

Mobile devices are omnipresent within today’s society. In fact, according to Global Web Index, the average digital consumer now owns at least three different connected devices, which can include laptops, tablets, smartphones, wearables and consoles. Phones are by far the most widely adopted piece of hardware. Pew Research Center reported that 95 percent of Americans own a cellphone of some kind, with 77 percent of these being smartphones.

The mobile revolution has impacted how people complete personal tasks and how they expect to work. As the world becomes more connected and more tech savvy than ever, educators must ensure that their students learn how to use this equipment effectively. More schools are starting to adopt bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies and even providing hardware in some cases. Before educational institutions start rolling out mobile devices, there are a few critical things to know and consider.

1. Infrastructure Must Adapt

In most traditional school settings, items on the network are often under total control of the IT department. This might include staff hardware, the computer lab, routers and projection equipment. By introducing mobile devices into the mix, the hardware is much harder to manage and ensure that students are using it effectively, particularly in BYOD environments. If students are allowed to leverage personal devices, there’s a chance that they could download malicious applications and not maintain the equipment correctly. This opens up vulnerabilities within the school network and can impact an institution’s ability to meet federal and industry regulations.

School infrastructure must be able to support devices throughout the campus.

Additionally, mobile devices require a lot more bandwidth capacity than traditional equipment. iPads, a popular choice for many schools, can hog bandwidth, especially if an institution hasn’t thought ahead to upgrade its capacity. Scholastic noted that school administrators and IT professionals must consider usage during certain times of the day and ensure that accessibility is provided throughout different parts of the building. For example, students and faculty might use their mobile devices during lunch time, meaning that there will be a spike of activity and that the cafeteria and teacher’s lounge must facilitate reliable internet connections. Relying on the infrastructure in place will inhibit mobile initiatives and cause frustration across the board. Administrators need to determine the best way to set up the network and configure filters to keep students and their devices safe.

2. Plan It Out

Businesses across every industry are facing challenges with governing mobile hardware, and educational institutions must learn from these experiences to ensure their rollout goes smoothly. While a BYOD approach offers the opportunity for teaching digital citizenship, schools will still require a capable mobile device management (MDM) solution alongside solid policies. EdScoop contributor Stephen Noonoo suggested talking with educators in other school districts about their MDM experience as well as defining goals early on in the process. This will help choose the best MDM solution for your school’s particular needs and ensure that the system plays well with active operating systems and device platforms.

Device management plays a critical role in adhering to child privacy laws, filtering out explicit content and keeping parents informed about what software is being used. IT administrators need to thoroughly assess applications and ensure that student information remains secure. It will be particularly important to read agreements, data sharing policies and age requirements. With application control and strong mobile management, schools can advocate appropriate programs and prevent students from utilizing unauthorized apps.

“Teachers will need know how to incorporate the devices into the learning process.”

3. Training Is Necessary

Although students and faculty are increasingly interacting with mobile devices in their daily lives, it’s not safe to assume that they will understand how to use them appropriately for learning purposes. If mobile hardware use isn’t given the right guidance, the equipment can be expensive to support and not worth the investment. Teachers will need to be trained on how to incorporate the devices into the learning process and differentiate instruction through a range of apps and Web tools, Edudemic contributor Tom Daccord wrote. Even workflow basics like sharing materials and passing student work back can be complicated if teachers are unfamiliar with how these activities are performed online. By establishing workflow plans and implementing training sessions, teachers can address these challenges.

“Schools that share a common vision for learning, extensive support for teachers in learning to use these new devices, and a willingness to learn from the teachers around the country who have already piloted these tools are much more likely to reap the benefits of their investments in iPads,” Daccord wrote.

Students will also have to learn the best practices of using mobile devices effectively. This could include implementing security, how to update hardware and how to use approved applications. Information can be imparted during lessons as students progress in their school years, but training will certainly be required as technology becomes more sophisticated and capable.

Mobile device use is becoming the norm, and people must understand how to use this equipment effectively for a variety of purposes. More schools are rolling out mobile devices to teach students how to become productive members of society, but these considerations will be necessary prior to implementation. To learn more about what your school can do to enable productive mobility in education, and keep devices secure, contact Faronics today.

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