Schools are continually facing budget cuts and looking for ways in which they can lower their expenditures. One of the latest trends has been to deal with BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. This is more of a trend than a technological advancement in the field. However, principals and IT departments are scrambling to learn more about what BYOD brings to their industry and if it is just a fad or a long-term solution.
So what is BYOD? It allows staff as well as students to bring in their own devices to the school (like laptops or tablets) and utilize it instead of being provided by schools. This leads to cost savings for schools and flexibility for the staff and students.
While its becoming a necessity to be online all the time – be it for subject matter research or even for project collaboration – more and more schools have facilities that provides always-on internet connection.
A Few Benefits With BYOD
BYOD provides a slew of benefits helps reduce the cost of a school and provide high return on investment. The following benefits need to be considered:
- Less worry about repairs and upgrades.
- Lower costs for IT which can be put into other areas of schooling.
- You don’t really need a large scale program to deploy BYOD initiative in schools.
- Increased workflow for students and staff members.
While it seems that BYOD helps save costs of procuring computers, for calculating the true ROI we also need to take into account the technical support costs and the costs to strengthen device security.
A Few Challenges with BYOD
As previously mentioned, security and technical support pose the biggest challenges for any school wanting to implement BYOD. Security experts will need to secure their networks as they don’t have any control over the end-user’s system. If there is a security hole in a student’s laptop, the IT team will have to put in tighter security measures so that their school network does not get jeopardized.
Technical issues that arise will need to be handled deftly. With BYOD in place, there is virtually no control over which laptops or OS are used by students/ staff. Therefore, the tech staff will have to be trained in troubleshooting diverse technologies.
Another case in point is it cannot be implemented across the board as there might be some students/ staff who cannot afford laptops. The schools will need to provision computers for such cases.
Many schools are considering a bring your own device, BYOD, policy for their campus. This is a trend that continues to grow every year and school management teams have to consider how to best prepare. These five factors are important for BYOD implementation.
1. Network capabilities: With a greater number of wireless devices being used, there is a need for increased BYOD security. If a school wants to build a wireless network or improve the current one, they should consider the potential number of mobile devices connecting and the location. Spec access points to ensure that they can handle the increased traffic load.
2. BYOD Security: BYOD consideration needs to maintain security. The careful planning and implementation of mobile device management, role-based access control and policy agreements can minimize the issue of security at a school. All security systems in place should be thoroughly checked and tested on multiple devices by IT professionals to ensure that the system is safe for users.
3. Network Management: Management should be centralized. With a centralized system, the IT staff can manage bandwidth, application acceleration, and WAN optimization. This not only decreases the work load for IT, it also unifies the management across the entire network.
4. Access Control: Role-based access control is another area of setting up a BYOD system. With RBAC, users are assigned to different groups based on their authentication. These groups each have a certain role which allow them to access a designated area of the network based on how the network is segment. This system ensures that students can access the resources needed without venturing into areas which are not allowed.
5. BYOD Policy: Having a thorough BYOD policy is important. It helps to make the entire system run smoothly by setting up both expectations and rules for users. A list of devices supported or not supported is a good idea. Be sure to have each user supplied with a policy and have them sign a user agreement before implementation. This small step can make a big difference and when problems arise with the networks or devices, students will know who to contact and what resources they can use.
These five factors should all be considered before setting up a BYOD policy. With so many students having smart devices, BYOD is becoming popular and can be an efficient method of ensuring students have access to needed resources. These factors will ensure that students remain safe and will help to control traffic with a BYOD implementation.