How to Start Implementing a BYOD Solutions Program in Your School
It seems like only yesterday when students used pencils and paper or markers and white boards to solve their math and science problems. Flash forward to when they then graduated to those fancy scientific calculators as physics, trigonometry, and calculus made their ways into the curriculum in high school or college. And we can't forget the now extinct typewriters and the slightly newer word processors.
Now, pretty much every student has a mobile device that can let them perform mathematical or scientific calculations. You see them during homeroom, in the hallways, during lunch, at recess, and while they're waiting for their buses. There are hundreds of them, and if you're in a large school, make it thousands.
There's been a lot of pressure for BYOD solutions, and more so in your K-12 schools. Why? There's more online testing, student demands, and even new styles of teaching that support BYOD. Students are using mobile devices collaboratively for assignments, doing homework in places other than home, checking messages from teachers, and even while on field trips for photos and note taking. And while elementary school kids are in on the action, the middle and high school students are taking their iPads and smartphones to new lengths, using them for tasks like doing research and writing reports.
Let's face it. Your kids have laptops, smart phones, and tablets, so why not embrace what's already there that they absolutely adore. And that's leading a lot of schools to adopt BYOD because of its accessibility and affordability.
So now you're thinking about BYOD and how you can get it done. Think of it this way: you won't have to listen to your students complain about the number of trees they're killing in writing in notebooks, test papers, and reports. You can actually get things moving quickly. Here are some ideas to get the BYOD mobile party started.
Get Started Now
What's the best way to get started with your BYOD program? Ask yourself these questions and try following these steps:
- Determine what objectives you want to meet. Do you want teachers to use mobile devices as an extra resource during class? Do you want teachers to plan whole lessons involving group work, projects, etc. around these mobile devices?
- Be sure your wireless network infrastructure can handle the BYOD program. You can't just start letting everyone start bringing devices to your school wireless network. It won't be able to handle it. There’s no point in even implementing BYOD if it means crappy performance. Your school wireless network has to support the added devices so there are no interruptions during lessons. Make certain you can afford the wireless network upgrades you are going to need to support BYOD.
- Be sure your Wi-Fi is available throughout your campus. Think about considering areas like the gyms, parking lots, and sports fields. You will probably want wireless network access for those as well.
- Figure out a plan for students who do not have the appropriate mobile devices for your BYOD program. Chances are most of your students already have mobile devices needed for BYOD. In K-12 the average is 2-3 mobile devices per student, and in higher ed. it's 3-5 devices per student. There will be students who do not have them or cannot afford them. You need to make a game plan on how you will address this issue. One idea is for the school to buy mobile devices for students to rent for the year. This will be cheaper than buying one device per student and still insures every student has the opportunity to reap the wonderful benefits mobile learning has to offer.
- You need to make sure your students and network are safe and secure. Next generation security is a must when it comes to BYOD in schools. In a nut shell, next generation security integrates firewall, intrusion prevention, and application identification and control, which are all vital components for BYOD. You also, need to be able to identify and segment users to safely enable applications and prevent threats.
- Find out from parents and students exactly who has mobile devices and what they are. There may be certain devices you do and don’t want to allow or support so it’s important to know this ahead of time to get your guidelines and BYOD policies in place.
- Determine what applications students will be using. Will they be using cloud-based apps? Chances are they probably will be. It would be wise to speak with other schools about their BYOD or 1:1 experiences and find out what apps are the most useful to them.
- Write a BYOD Policy for your students and parents to sign BEFORE students bring their devices to school. This same policy lets you gain access to the devices much like you would search a student's locker or backpack. Make sure your BYOD policy clearly explains acceptable use, rules, and regulations so they know what to expect. This will prevent your IT from having to deal with tons of extra problems and questions.
- Start with your teachers first. After your network is ready and all the policies have been written it’s time to start bringing in the mobile devices. Start with your teachers first though. Some teachers may not be familiar with mobile learning and educational apps. Choose your teaching staff that is already knowledgeable in the technology to help with a training class. Get you educators comfortable with having mobile devices in the classroom before you bombard them with a whole classroom full of them. You want your teachers comfortable and familiar with using mobile devices to get the full benefits BYOD has to offer.
Use these steps to help guide your way through the BYOD implementation process. To make the whole thing as painless as possible, make sure you choose a good wireless design specialist. If your wireless network sucks all the rest of this stuff doesn’t even matter. At SecurEdge, we specialize in building completely secure wireless networks for BYOD. If you are considering allowing BYOD, have any questions, or would like a free consultation with one of our experts you can contact us here. Good luck!
Ashley is a Marketing Coordinator at SecurEdge Networks. She loves cooking and everything there is about being a mom.