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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Smart ways for schools to deploy smart devices for digital education

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The digitalization of schools started a long time ago. In classrooms, digital technology is replacing blackboards with projectors and televisions, and students are swapping their books for tablets. During school shutdowns and remote learning, educational technology and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device have become a lifeline for uninterrupted learning.

Also, BYOD programs are gaining popularity among educational institutes. It is a feasible way of increasing access to technology without the cost of purchasing a device for each student. Other key benefits include:

  • Opportunities for personalized learning
  • Concentrate device funding for students in need 
  • Immediate technology integration

Student attitudes towards tablets are also changing. 3 out of 4 students prefer tablets over textbooks, while two-thirds of them would choose their own device for learning [*]. This means a large number of personal devices are connected to a school’s network, which makes mobile device management (MDM) a necessity.

Why is BYOD important in schools?

Any mobile device such as a laptop, tablet or smartphone that has access to educational content through internet connectivity can be a tool to transform learning. It makes it easy for students to continue their learning, and teachers to deliver teaching materials on the device, no matter where they are.

Plus, a school-supplied mobile device learning initiative may take months to plan, finance, purchase and implement. A BYOD program can be rolled out in weeks.

Benefits of BYOD in schools

    • Better learning: Several reports suggest mobile apps are not only engaging but educational for students. A research conducted by Abilene Christian University found students who used iOS “Statistics 1” saw improvement in their final grades.
    • Shorter learning curve: Today’s children and youth are digital natives and using mobile devices is second nature to them. Students know their device better and schools don’t need to spend loads of time on training anymore.
  • Cost effective: Providing a dedicated mobile device for each student is a challenge. BYOD saves schools a significant amount of money and is an affordable option for adopting digital education. 

BYOD program challenges (and solutions)

  1. Deployment of Mobile Devices

BYOD does not mean students can start using their personal devices for learning right away. Schools will need to chalk out a BYOD policy and outline a process for approving student’s devices for school use. 

After the policy is approved, IT admins will need help in managing and monitoring devices without affecting continuity and productivity of students.

Solution: Schools should look into MDM solutions that simplify BYOD deployment, enrollment, and provisioning. Over the air device enrollment features by Android Enterprise, Apple Business Manager, and Samsung Knox provide zero-touch provisioning.  

This eliminates the need to manually configure and enroll devices at scale into the school’s BYOD program.

  1. Security

A BYOD program attracts schools because it’s often a more cost-effective option, but it brings a host of security concerns, including data protection and compliance. Students can be careless and put their own personal information at risk. They also need to be protected from unsolicited emails and inappropriate websites too.

Schools hold a vast amount of sensitive data – from personnel salary to medical information – and protecting this data from security risk is essential. Accessing information through unprotected networks exposes unmonitored BYODs to viruses and malware. Such unsecured devices can be hijacked by bad actors to gain access to data. 

Schools will need to employ necessary measures for the security and privacy of student mobile devices to prevent data leaks.

Solution: MDM offers a variety of features to improve the security and privacy of mobile devices.

    • Geofencing can be used to ensure student monitoring and decide what they can do inside the campus with personal devices. Schools can disable non-academic apps and even disable hardware features like the camera when students enter the campus.
    • Website filtering restricts students from accessing unsafe websites. Schools can whitelist the required URLs for students to access websites approved by the school.
  • Device wipe can erase data to prevent any security threats, like data leakage. Scalefusion’s remote data wipe deletes data only from the section/container managed by the school.
  • Lock device is a useful feature when devices are not in use, for example during lunch, tests, or sports. Schools can use the MDM platform to remotely lock the device, and the student who knows the password can unlock the device.
  1. Device health monitoring

There is more to a BYOD program than simply allowing student devices at school. The devices must be functional for students to be productive. For example, students come to class and are ready for learning. They turn on their digital tablets to find out a low battery charge level is inadequate to take them through the whole day.

Solution: MDM gives the ability to proactively monitor the health of various student devices. With real-time monitoring of all the devices, any issues detected with the device are corrected immediately.

If students forget to charge their devices, notifications can be used to alert them when the battery life is low. In this way, students will remember to charge their devices before leaving for school.

Tech glitches and system failures are inevitable. With MDM, IT teams can remotely fix technical issues. Some MDM platforms like Scalefusion offer remote cast and control for mobile devices, where screens can be cast to provide remote assistance.

Wrapping Up

Digital learning and education technology is providing an invaluable service by making the learning experience fun and productive. Schools can expect the best results from their BYOD program when significant effort is put into ensuring the student devices and infrastructure are up to standard. 

Effective device management supports schools to secure networks, limit distractions, and improve the quality of in-class learning. MDM solutions for efficient deployment will become vital as more mobile devices enter the education system.

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