The concept of “bring your own device” has been seriously considered by many school districts. Reducing costs to school districts is one of the most prominent points to the BYOD system. Millions of dollars are spent across the United States in order to update classrooms, labs, and staff development rooms every year. By implementing a BYOD policy, this money can be spent towards other improvements and educational needs.
However, there are a few snags that can get in the way of implementing such a drastic change for a school district. Safety, security, and affordability to families are among some of the pressure points that need to be addressed before such a system can become live.
Protecting the students and the equipment of a school-wide network can be a daunting task at times. Devices such as USB flash drives and laptops brought from home can pose a threat to those networks if a malicious virus is waiting in such devices. One way that the school districts address this threat is with top-of-the-line firewalls and anti-virus programs which often work well.
Attempted access to administration files and email could also pose a threat from devices brought in from outside the school. Domain settings, firewalls, and other security measures can be implemented to increase the security of these vital files and make sure they stay out of harm’s way.
Keeping our children safe from questionable elements of the Internet is why districts invest in filters and firewalls. However, there are ways to circumvent firewalls and can easily be implemented from a laptop or tablet device. Social sites, adult content, and more can be easily accessed if the IT department doesn’t have a plan against intrusions by modded technologies. There are many systems available to school distracts that can help to address this problem and keep students from seeing questionable content while at school.
Although a large portion of the children in many school districts have their own smartphones and tablets, not all of them can afford such luxuries. In rural school districts, the ability to afford a BYOD device could prove near impossible for the family. Means to accommodate those families need to be addressed in order for the child to stay productive. Whether this is procured from grants, donations, or school property each school needs to develop a strategy before implementing BYOD. Thankfully there are many government funds available for this sort of thing, so finding the funds to allow low income students the same access is not as difficult as it would have been in the past.
Some school districts may have closed wireless networking which does not broadcast the SSID. Other networks may implement MAC authentication and other methods of authorized connectivity for school property. As the child needs to be able to connect to the network, these closed units need to be addressed. Stable wireless activity is also a mandatory need if BYOD policies are being considered. Heavy traffic on wireless channels can create lag and slow connection speeds.
As nearly all smartphones and tablets able to utilize wireless connection are built with 802.11 protocol, they can use virtually any network. However, server-based software currently in use may need to have mobile compatibility or other similar software available for mobile devices needs to be sought after. Luckily, a great deal of educational resources used today are web-based and may be able to be used with the device’s browser.
Problems such as these need to be resolved before a BYOD policy is implemented. If the school districts are seriously contemplating replacing desktop computer labs with devices owned by the student or parent, every contingency needs to be examined. If the problems are solved before they arise, the system can continue to work flawlessly.
Ken Myers is the founder of Longhorn Leads and has learned over the years the importance of focusing on what the customer is looking for and literally serving it to them. He doesn’t try to create a need, instead he tries to satisfy the existing demand for information on products and services.