As School leaders and Governors, ICT is an essential part of your remit. Although ICT specialists will give guidance, the final decision about your school's ICT direction rests with you.
In an effort to help you make decisions about ICT easier and more informed, we've put together this selection of articles, created by ourselves and from around the net.
We hope that you'll find this section interesting and informative. Don't forget, if there's a subject that's not covered we're only at the end of an email or phone call.
Advancements in technology have started to blur the edges of where students engage in learning. It can range from an iPad app explaining a Shakespearean play in a student’s home to a student running their own e-commerce website from their mobile device. In fact, these advancements in learning and technology have led to an expectation from students and parents that their devices should be used in the classroom, especially where they’re more technologically advanced than the schools incumbent ones.
There are many benefits to bring your own device e.g. minimising the difference between school and industry devices or students already being conversant with their own equipment. As with all new approaches though, bring your own device has an equal number of pedagogical disadvantages. The digital divide between students may be increased, teachers will not be conversant with every student’s device and devices can’t be effectively controlled by classroom management systems. As a school, the advantages of bring your own device are substantial enough to deserve closer inspection, so what should be done?
The impact of bring your own device on your school will differ substantially depending on your individual approach to security, accessibility and indeed availability. Schools in areas of severe economic and social deprivation for example, where parents are unable to fund devices, will find it difficult to make bring your own device viable. For those schools that do, there are three key requirements that need to be investigated as part of your bring your own device approach.
The first requirement for your bring your own device strategy is to decide which parts of your system student devices should access. Currently the most viable option is through a guest wireless network using a web browser. The obvious reason for exclusion from the main network is the possibility of hundreds of students inadvertently introducing viruses and malware from a range of devices. Cloud-based services have started to make this approach to access viable. In the main, educational establishments are starting to use free productivity suites, such as Google apps or Microsoft 365 which can be accessed using a web browser. Similarly cloud-based Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) are starting to become commonly available thereby allowing access to lessons, materials etc.
Should you decide to move beyond this level of functionality with bring your own device, the next requirement is application control. If you decide on specific software for your students, how do you manage the differences between MAC and PC versions, IOS and Android? What about version control of software? Does every student and teacher have access to the same functionality? Does the teacher?
The last concern is that of support. Currently, school ICT departments have all of the information and experience to deal with the ICT they have. They administer their network with tools like active directory allowing school-wide updates and patching. When they refresh equipment, they may purchase 300 identical laptops ensuring that they can have a single disk image and a supply of commonly needed spares such as power supplies. This “whole school” approach reduces financial cost, protects the school network and most importantly ensures that students always have technology to support learning.
Should your school utilise bring your own device the requirement to make technology available for learning still remains and the process for internal IT will have to change significantly to meet it. Even with a significant range of devices that are limited to only web based access, the IT department will still be required to aid students with “how to” questions and with MAC, PC, Android and IOS devices this will require a significant knowledge base. Additionally, in many cases, schools are also planning on holding a silo of spare laptops for students to use should their devices break or be stolen. This will bring significant issues for a example to a creative media student who has only used a Macbook Pro for their course but will now have to utilise a windows based device.
Is there a place for Bring Your Own Device in Education
If a student brings their own mobile to school should they use it? What functionality should it have and how do you control access? These are questions that should be addressed on a school-by-school basis, depending on their approach to risk and their reasons for considering bring your own device. As with all major policy changes, it should be approached with a full understanding of both its impact to your current schooling and its ongoing impact in years to come.
If you require further information on bring your own device policy, strategy or implementation please contact MASS. We are experts in secure education networks and multiple device engagement.