Thinking About Supporting BYOD in Your Classrooms? What to Consider Before You Say Yes
Allowing BYOD (bring your own device) has been a growing trend over the last 5 years. However, many schools that have adopted a bring your own device program still struggle when it comes to delivering the wireless experience they hoped bring your own device would provide.
Although it’s been around for a while now, many schools are still just getting started. If this describes your school currently, here are a few things you’ll want to consider before you say yes.
Is your current wireless network ready to handle the influx of devices?
Anytime you’re going to add new devices or new applications onto your school Wi-Fi network you have to understand the state of your current wireless network design to make sure it’s capable of supporting what you’re trying to do.
More devices means more strain on your network and if your network was never designed for capacity or optimized for mobile devices then you’re definitely going to run into some performance issues.
How old is your current design?
If it’s been over 4 years since your last network refresh then chances are you’re going to need to update your WLAN design to properly support your new BYOD program.
On average you need to refresh your entire network every 3-4 years to continue to support the latest connected devices.
As I stated above, a lot of wireless network designs that are over 4 years old at this point were never designed to address mobile devices, especially at these increasing amounts.
Typically, older networks were based on a coverage model which worked just fine when you had computer labs and the school owned the devices. However, now you no longer own the devices and they’re not accessing the network from one single location.
How will you manage BYOD devices on the network?
It’s hard to support what you can’t see and what you don’t own. It’s the inherent issue with mobility today.
You have to have the right network management solutions and processes in place to properly handle every device, application and type of user.
This will not only help to secure your wireless network resources but also help you to deliver a quality user experience.
Role-based access control is a great starting point; we like to call it network access control “lite”. Here’s a great video that explains what RBAC is and how it will benefit you.
Have you involved the right people?
The Wi-Fi engineering process is very complex, especially when you’re trying to support bring your own device.
It takes a lot of expertise and a lot of skill to get it right the first time around. Not all wireless network designs are created equal; some consultants don’t have the necessary certifications, don’t use the proper predictive RF software and flat out just don’t know what they’re doing.
It’s important that you involve the right wireless service provider or network engineering team to help guide you through the process so you don’t have to spend even more time and money fixing your network after the fact.
Some final thoughts
I truly believe BYOD will be implemented at every school in the near future. To me it offers too many incredible educational opportunities to not be supported.
Schools that take these few things into consideration from the very start can find success with bring your own device.
Remember in an educational world full of increasing numbers of mobile devices, high-powered applications, and growing security threats it takes constant wifi planning. The truth is the job is never over.
At SecurEdge, we deliver affordable, robust, and secure wireless platforms – it’s all we do. If you have any questions about wireless network design or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.
Danny is the Marketing Manager at SecurEdge Networks. This basically means it’s his mission in life to make sure you have the secure mobility tools and resources that you actually want and can use. P.S. He also loves a good craft beer.