eBooks have certainly come a long way in a relatively short time, it was even thought at one point that they were nothing more than a trend. In reality, with the help of the Kindle and iPad and a shrinking world connected by mobile devices and wireless technology eBooks survived and are ready to get even better than we can imagine.
When it comes to education however, it’s been a slow process to make the change and to adopt eBooks as an engaging addition to the learning environment. In fact, according to the 2013 ECAR study, 6% of students didn’t use a single eBook even though about 50% of students have said both that they wished their instructors used them more and that they are important to their academic success.
eBooks used to be nothing more than simple pdfs you could view on e-readers and laptops. Then came the Kindle and more importantly tablets like the iPad. While plenty of eBooks are still PDFs the future of Ebooks will go far beyond that.
Current eBooks might be one kind of challenge to deal with on school IT departments and faculty but this new generation of Ebooks that are more about interaction and engagement with the reader (students) will be much more cumbersome.
Here are 3 things to do to prepare for interactive learning in the classroom.
1 - Updating Your School Wireless Infrastructure
Interactive learning requires that each room have the ability to simultaneously stream learning content, whether that's iPads in the classroom, chromebooks, smartphones or even all three.
To make sure this is possible without any potential issues it is critical to make sure our school wireless networks have the proper infrastructure to effectively support all of the new interactive technology.
One of the first things to look at is signal strength. When you have many devices (most of which are iPads) they require a strong and reliable connection to function properly, especially dealing with a large number of devices connecting all at the same time.
So make sure you test your signal strength and distribution throughout the day, having a wireless site survey done is a great way to make sure you are ready, because it doesn’t make sense to deploy an interactive technology initiative if your school can’t properly support it all.
2 - Making Sure Your Network is Secure
New interactive eBooks and other mobile initiatives create new security challenges for IT departments. These security challenges range from authentication and authorization to having a granular visibility of all users and devices.
A great place to start is with NAC or Network Access Control. NAC lets you do three things, validate identities, assign roles, and enforce policies. This allows you to know who is connecting, what type of device they are connecting, what role they are assigned to determined by you and then finally enforced by giving you full control of the devices behaviors.
With proper network access control in place your school wireless network can have both control and enforcement capabilities.
3 - Developing a Mobile Device Policy
An often overlooked but essential part of any mobility strategy is having a mobile device policy for both the students and faculty. Some refer to this as digital citizenship but basically its an agreement between the school and the mobile device users that clearly defines what is and what is not acceptable.
These types of policies or guidelines should be well thought out, clear and have the students best interests in mind. Get the parents involved and have them apart of this policy. Setting expectations is a critical component and keeps everyone involved well informed while providing a sense of ownership.
Establishing a community between the IT department and it’s users (students, faculty, parents) is vital to creating and maintaining mobility.
Interactive content is becoming more and more popular and within the next few years will increase dramatically.
This type of content will increase the number of mobile technologies in use such as iPads, Chromebooks and Smartphones putting a tremendous strain on IT departments and the school’s wireless network. Make sure you're prepared to support mobility today.
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