A majority of districts are adopting 1:1 technology initiatives. Some provide every student with their own device. Others have implemented Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policies that allow students to use their personal smartphones, tablets or laptops for learning.
The latter strategy makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Rather than fight the daily battle of students bringing their own devices to school, why not embrace them with BYOD?
Even if your district provides every student with their own hardware, student-owned devices will make their way into your schools. Allowing students to use those devices in the classroom broadens access to online learning opportunities while eliminating the expense of purchasing new technology for every student.
But with a BYOD policy comes many different devices, and you must be prepared to manage them all. Here are seven questions to ask yourself to test your readiness.
1. How will we keep devices from becoming distractions?
Stop distractions where they start: on individual devices in individual classrooms. To do this, you must empower teachers with the ability to see student activity on any device and control it with a click.
2. How will we deter cheating?
You could prohibit devices entirely during testing, but what if an exam is administered online? You’ll need the ability to lock down browsers, shutting down access to all websites and apps except the online testing environment.
3. How will we manage the different devices accessing our network?
One of the easiest ways is by creating a captive portal that requires staff, students and guests to quickly authenticate devices before gaining access, just like at a hotel. Once signed in, you should be able to see every device on the network, where it’s located and who it belongs to.
4. How will I know if students are actually using our network?
Filters and firewalls are only effective if students are connected to your network. Have a way to easily identify when devices (and the students who own them) are bypassing your network to access online content prohibited in your Acceptable Use Policy.
5. Is all of our EdTech compatible?
A BYOD policy introduces many different devices and operating systems into your technology infrastructure. It’s important to make sure all of your existing programs can “talk” to any device that logs in.
6. How do we maintain transparency without sacrificing student privacy?
The success of BYOD hinges on the ability to oversee devices and get students back on track when they aren’t using them correctly. Do you have a system in place to access the user information you need without seeing information you shouldn’t?
7. How will I get buy-in for our BYOD policy?
All of the questions above are concerns that skeptical stakeholders will have, too. And without buy-in and support from teachers, school leaders, students, and even parents, your BYOD policy is less likely to be a success.
NetRef is a simple, all-in-one solution that can help you address these concerns and prove that learning is possible under a BYOD policy. IT teams can use NetRef to manage the devices on your network. Teachers can use it to monitor online activity on every device and redirect students who get off task. School leaders can use NetRef to audit web activity and EdTech use across classrooms, schools and the district and use that insight to prove that students can focus on learning in a BYOD environment.
This school has successfully implemented a BYOD strategy with NetRef’s help. Read their story.