Does your school district have a strategy for using mobile devices in the classroom? If so, then chances are you’re familiar with the myriad benefits of implementing a BYOD or 1:1 program in your schools. But those benefits can come with their fair share of challenges.
Perhaps you already have a deployment and management system in place. But is it working as hard for you as it could be? If you find yourself nodding your head to any of the statements below, then it may be time for an upgrade.
1. You have a mix of BYOD and 1:1.
As of 2014, over half of all school districts in the United States were participating in a BYOD program, according to a report by the Center for Digital Education and the National School Boards Association. Many are finding that a varied mix of multiple device types — 1:1, cart deployments and shared devices — fits their needs best. If this is the case in your schools, then you’re probably managing different devices and operating systems with separate tools, which can be unnecessarily complicated. A device management solution that offers multi-OS support can bring together all operating systems — Windows, iOS, Mac, Chrome and Android — into a single interface, saving you time, expense and frustration.
2. You can’t seem to find enough time.
With IT teams shrinking, technology projects increasing and class sizes growing, device integration can feel overwhelming. If your management tools don’t offer the ability to delegate tasks, a more advanced system may be the answer. Smart delegation is critical, because it helps IT admins be everywhere at once, even when they can’t be.
Admins should have the power to manage and monitor activity from the entire district down to schools and individual classrooms, but more importantly, they should have the ability to hand certain tasks off to school staff and teachers. A system that delivers powerful reports and delegation tools can help you start to get back the most precious resource of all — time.
3. Add-on programs are adding up.
Management systems that start out simple and cost effective have the potential to be limiting, and can require add-on programs (and additional time and dollars) down the road. For example, to get the full functionality of management, monitoring, web filtering and content creation from traditional disconnected systems, you’d need at least three additional programs. Upgrading to an all-in-one system has several benefits: Devices are ready to be handed to students in seconds; educators feel empowered to manage student devices in their classrooms; and IT can monitor it all — even safety features and web filtering — from a single dashboard.
4. Teachers are overwhelmed, students are off task.
Out of 42,000 teachers polled in 2014, 76 percent noted the potential for student distraction, according to Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up Survey. And with 50-minute class periods, teachers don’t have a minute to waste. If you’re receiving feedback from teachers or you yourself are feeling overwhelmed and your students are getting off task, look for a system that provides everything to keep students engaged in one simple dashboard. When you can push content, monitor student screens, lock devices, view battery levels and reset passcodes from one place, you waste less time and can get right back to teaching.
Does your current system offer temporary device adjustment? For example, defaulting to camera-off is typical; otherwise students take selfies, pictures of exams and generally get distracted. But the camera can be a powerful tool in many lessons. Not all systems allow teachers to grant temporary access to things like the camera for a specified period of time, so finding a program that allows for that kind of balanced, delegated management is something to consider.
5. You wish your devices — and your students — could do more. Systems that offer solely web-based apps mean students have to be online to do their work, and saving locally usually isn’t an option. But the reality is that not all students have internet access outside of the classroom, so this can be an obstacle. To overcome issues such as inequity of internet connectivity at home, the ability to download media, installing additional software or storing files for offline work, you’ll need a more robust system.
Engage your students even further with a service that includes a campus library full of educational content, and works with familiar productivity and collaboration tools like Windows 10, Office 365 and OneNote. This is especially prudent for this generation of learners; because as mobile technology gets increasingly ubiquitous, the earlier students get experience with the devices and tools they’ll use in the future, the better.
There are a lot of device management options out there. Make sure yours is powerful, flexible, intuitive and easy to use. It should offer the perfect balance of centralized control and delegated management to save everyone time and frustration. With more freedom to devote to teaching and supporting those who teach, students reap the benefits of effective and meaningful device-supported lessons.
Amanda Burch is a professional copywriter, covering topics for the health, finance and education sectors for nearly a decade. This post was sponsored by Microsoft & Lightspeed Systems.
The Innovator Solutions section on the EdTekHub includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education.