Usefull Tips for BYOD and the Classroom

BYOD in EducationMobile devices are not just having an impact on the enterprise. Education institutions are also realizing the benefits of these new technologies through increased access to information and new channels for learning and teaching. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs are entering classrooms around the country, but in order to realize the full potential these initiatives can bring to the table they have to be implemented properly and thoughtfully.

The Center for Digital Education provides a bit of advice suggesting 5 things to think about when considering a BYOD program in schools. The first suggestion seems to be an obvious one but some people might be surprise. “Take time to plan and test, don’t rush in”. Just saying you want to start a BYOD program and jumping right in will simply lead to confusion, security threats and counter productivity. They write “Parents have to be informed, instructional goals must be set, and schools need to figure out how to handle the initiative when not every student’s family can afford devices or broadband access.”

They suggest beta testing the BYOD program on a small scale first, but do so with an administrator or principal who is excited about the initiative. Place testing responsibility with someone who is vested and truly interested in seeing the program succeed. The article states that implementers need to “Focus on the instructional difference”. BYOD programs should not be implemented just for the sake of doing so. They should have an impact on the learning process and that, “The ones that are really focusing on how can this make a difference for instructional purposes are the ones that are going to see the biggest impact.”

Education and the tools used to educate should be present on a level playing field. When it coming to BYOD technologies that might not be the easiest thing to do due to economic factors. Not everyone will be able to afford the technologies needed to take advantage of a program like this so the Center for Digital Education suggests creating an equity strategy. “If you’re going to allow a BYOD strategy and assume that it’s going to be used for instructional purposes, either at school or at home, you need to have a strategy to help kids that don’t have it or can’t afford it. Starting one without that sets you up for possible lawsuits or possible criticism in the media that you’re just benefiting more affluent kids.”

Their last suggestion is to over provision your wireless network. BYOD means more devices, more devices mean more network activity, and increased network activity will lead to lags in connectivity and loss of bandwidth. Create an infrastructure that will support a larger then expected device population, other wise the devices become useless and the program will never achieve desired results. “If you were building out a network today, and you want that network to last for say even three years, then build out 10 times more capacity today than you think you need,” We would also add that there should be a focus on the security or the devices, the information they can access and how they are utilized. You should evaluate all your Mobile Device Management (MDM), Mobile Application Management (MAM) or Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) and determine what type of management and security fits best for your environment. Click here to read the entire Center for Digital Education article.

One thought on “Usefull Tips for BYOD and the Classroom”

  1. You have some really useful tips for BYOD in this article. However, I would like to point out that mobile device management (MDM) really doesn’t have a role to play when it comes to BYOD. Mobile device management is simply about controlling features and functions of the device at the device level. It gives you no control or security over your data which is what you really should care about. And by taking control of the features at the device level, this really impacts negatively on the user’s experience for these devices. Not only does MDM have little role to play, it does not add any security to your data or more importantly in the Education sector, privacy.

    There are really 3 principles that need to be adhered to with security and privacy in mind, which are important when it comes to BYOD and those 3 principles are:

    1. The organization needs a way to ensure that access to the school applications and data is done securely. And one of the common ways to achieve this on a mobile platform is multi factor authentication.
    2. The school or educational institution needs to clearly separate educational apps and data from personal apps and data and this is for both security and privacy reasons. Two common ways for this to be achieved is through containerization or virtualization.
    3. Organizations need to secure the data whilst it’s resorting on the device and whilst it’s in transit, again for security and privacy reasons. And that can be achieved through encrypting the relevant data.

    So these are 3 key principles when it comes to the privacy and security aspects of BYOD. None of them are achieved by MDM and leveraging MDM which again is only about leveraging device level controls such as setting a device level passwords, blacklisting or white listing applications and so forth. These are inappropriate with BYOD because you should not be telling someone what they can and cannot do with their own personal device. and they do little to ensure the security and privacy of your educational data and the information that you actually really care about.

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