The way our teachers teach and share information is vastly different than it was a few years ago. The shift has been so broad and fast because of the influx of technology and how teachers and students alike are able to utilize these technologies to benefit their teaching and learning experiences.
Many schools have made the shift to being tablet/iPad friendly. Whether it’s 1:1 or BYOD. Teachers are able to find educational applications that enhance the learning environment.
However, have you thought about how you’re going to secure your school's network to protect confidential information both on and off campus?
If you answered no, then it’s time think about mobile device management or MDM for short.
MDM and why it’s critical for a Successful BYOD Program
First off, what is mobile device management and why it is a necessary feature for your school to have?
Mobile device management is a centralized platform that allows you to monitor, manage, support and secure mobile devices on your wireless network.
A good MDM solution provides you with these 6 things:
- The ability to dictate automatic updates. Instead of going in and updating each device separately, you can now install and run diagnostics on different devices at an expedited rate.
- Provides scalability, so new end-users and new devices can be on-boarded with ease.
- Enhance your visibility. You will be able to see the devices gaining access to your network, the content students and teachers are accessing, and their role within in your wireless network.
- It will keep your network secure by enforcing policies and passwords to protect confidential information. Therefore, students can’t access grading tools, or their classmate’s confidential information. Just as teachers wouldn’t have access to their peers.
- The ability to remotely configure and monitor devices and applications being used. Going as far as allowing you to disable devices that aren’t supposed to have access to certain parts of your wireless network.
- Location tracking, a part of visibility, you will be able to see each device and to whom it belongs.
Benefits of MDM on a K-12 Campus
Allowing BYOD or participating in 1:1 has a lot of benefits, when we think about the benefits of implementing things like MDM solutions I am sure a few big ones come to mind.
However, there are a few others that don’t necessarily directly link to wireless internet access, or the applications being used.
- With a wide range of students, differing socio-economic backgrounds are undeniably on the table. MDM software aids in closing the divide between differing monetary backgrounds by providing access to all students for educational purposes.
- It provides students with enhanced information. MDM solutions manage the information they are able to access, which encourages educational material.
- Collaboration. When students are accessing the same application, or educational resource, or working on a paper together, they can easily share and work as a group to succeed.
- Having web-based assignments, makes the curriculum more exciting, even allowing BYOD devices to safely access the same applications from home.
- Providing your students & teachers with a secure network that minimizes the chance of confidential or critical information being leaked.
Plan before you “plan” for MDM
Before you get tunnel vision and only think about MDM and how to implement it, there are 4 factors to consider first.
Yes they all have to do with your wireless network design, and what you might need to first make sure your wireless network can support BYOD (or 1:1) in the first place.
Take into account the age of your school's WLAN design. If it’s more than 4 years old, it’s doubtful that it will be able to support the different devices and applications that will be used on your network anyway. It's time for an update!
The 4 basic factors that you need to consider first:
- Environment - Everything in the physical world can impact your wifi performance. The building layout, building materials, and even interior elements like metal mesh curtains need to be properly designed for.
- Devices - If you have already implemented a BYOD program, have you set up policies on what types of devices can be used? Can your current network support these devices? It’s important to think of this factor in terms of capacity and coverage. While you may have enough AP’s to cover your campus, your WLAN might not be properly designed to support your capacity needs. Meaning the types of devices, the number of devices, their capabilities and the applications being used on them.
- Applications - Think about the types of applications your going to allow on your K-12 campus. You don’t want students accessing just anything, eating up bandwidth with streaming apps like YouTube or social apps like Snapchat. Think about the policies you want to enforce, and consider the use of bandwidth shaping.
- End-users - How do you intend to allow access onto your wireless network? Have you implemented RBAC (role-based access control). RBAC allows your network to set and enforce policies based of pre-determined roles (teacher, student, faculty, guest) the end-user is assigned.
At the End of the Day
MDM is an amazing solution for your K-12 campus, it secures and navigates shifting priorities all with one centralized web-based system. Network security is the foundation of your wireless platform and MDM shouldn't be overlooked.
Here at SecurEdge we have helped hundreds of schools all across the country to design, implement and manage their wireless networks to support both current and future classroom technologies. If you would like a detailed consultation or have questions about an upcoming project, please contact us here.