Building a BYOD Strategy For Education

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1 A CBTS White Paper Building a BYOD Strategy For Education Chris Burns Marketing Director, CBTS 8/1/2012

2 Overview the BYOD Trend in Education Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is one of the hottest IT topics in education and business in CBTS learned after a great deal of research and surveys, that there are few experts in this field because the concept is still in its early stages. The educators who have been involved are adamant in their opinions either for or against it. Arguments both for and against have merits. In reality, administrators, faculty and students are already using multiple devices today, including mobile devices, for all types of communications and learning both inside and outside the classroom. The users are comfortable with the devices they own and have learned how to use them effectively for their purposes. Mobile devices in particular are used many times each day for research, communication, and other knowledge-based functions by students and faculty alike. In light of these facts, we believe that the first point to consider in the process of implementing a BYOD strategy is establishing the underlying goal for introducing and supporting a BYOD policy. Defining and communicating that goal is paramount to ensuring that all parties affected, understand why BYOD is being implemented, as well as the expectations of the parameters around that implementation. William Stites, Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy in New Jersey, makes a salient point about what should drive BYOD. First and foremost, any program should meet your learning goals and your mission, and match your school s culture. Our focus would be on the learning process and how we would support that through training, professional development and teaching. In other words it is not about the device, but what is being taught and learned using the device. The goal is to understand that each device is simply one of many different options for communicating and some will offer more robust learning opportunities than others. The key is to try to maximize the overall message first, and then understand the multitude of ways for students to receive that message. This is the approach that successful schools have adopted to implement BYOD. As opposed to focusing on how to monitor and control each device on the school s network, they focus on the educational message and the delivery of that message, and ensure that the focus is in unison with the district s vision and goals. The Speak up 2012 National Survey clearly shows that more students are ready for active online learning and web access for multiple devices than most districts. Most students understand their devices and mobile technology extremely well. When the time comes to add students to a BYOD program, they should be involved at the inception of the decision making process to give their buy-in and ideas. Surveys show this will have a considerable impact on the success of the program and allow the planners to understand the possibilities, as well as the limitations from the students viewpoint. Each school is different and each BYOD program that has been successful mirrors the school s culture as much as possible. The schools that focus on finding the best method for delivering their curriculum, followed by making sure the faculty understand the goals and challenges, and then offering professional development, are the ones that champion the BYOD program. Page 2

3 The Critical Components Page 3 1. Network A district s network needs to be a certain standard that is consistent in every building that participates in the BYOD program. That network must be able to handle the existing traffic, have redundancy and scalability for future growth, and allow access of approved personal devices. In addition, there must be enough access points throughout the participating schools. 2. Security This is critical because of the need to protect critical information, yet allow access to network, applications, and services. Options include creating or expanding a separate guest network for BYOD, where personal information cannot be accessed or utilizing a virtual desktop solution. In general, all devices will not be able to access or display the same material in the same way because the goals of faculty and staff are different from the students. There will always be a question of how much access is allowed vs. how much security. Those are decisions that should be addressed prior to any implementation. 3. Defining and Setting a Policy The district will have to develop a clear and identifiable policy for user-owned devices that protects the district and students. It should clearly state any changes of existing practices, as well as the policies for both faculty and students. 4. Ensuring Proper Training To ensure success, it is critical for all stake holders to understand the program, the policies, and the devices to be used. This is best accomplished through proper training on how to maximize the learning opportunities through those devices. It is important for the IT staff to understand and handle the increase in questions about the network and access for the BYOD devices. 5. Some Cost Shifting from the School District to Users There is still a cost involved, but with BYOD, the cost may shift from the school district to the users or in some cases, the parents. Also, depending on the location of the district, there could be a wide gap of adoption between those with high-end devices and those who have none. This should be considered when determining how the curriculum and assignments can be received. 6. Creating a Culture of Acceptance and Change District personnel at all levels must embrace the changes brought on by new technologies. Students in many cases are already more tech-savvy than their teachers and parents. Understanding the changes and how to take advantage of the BYOD program effectively will help close the generation gap and improve learning opportunities. Paradigm shift is never easy or simple. Proper time to study, evaluate and understand the benefits and risks is critical to the ultimate success of BYOD in schools.

4 The BYOD Benefits 1. Access to Network and District Information Anywhere, Anytime With mobile communication devices, some faculty and many students are already at the forefront of the technology curve. Giving them the ability to utilize their devices for teaching, research, learning, sharing, and communicating, will better prepare students for the world of college and work. 2. District Costs Could be Reduced Utilizing faculty and student owned devices could help reduce the IT equipment, maintenance, and refresh cost for school districts. From a mobile standpoint, BYOD would mean that the district would focus more on software, security, applications, and delivery, as opposed to maintaining and continuously refreshing different types of devices. 3. Guest Network Could be Fully Utilized Schools with an existing guest network in place could utilize and expand that network to include at least some of the applications and programs that teachers and eventually students would be able to utilize for BYOD. The guest network should remain separate from the main network. This will protect the critical information and reduce potential security issues, while improving access and accelerating adoption. 4. A New Way of Teaching and Learning Teachers that understand how to utilize the web for learning give themselves another tool to reach those students that may not do as well in a classroom or structured environment. Teachers can offer lessons and projects that utilize the Internet for research, sharing, storing documents and innovative ideas. This empowers the teachers and students who take the initiative and creativity to new levels. Students can also benefit from using tools they understand and use every day to schedule activities and communicate. 5. A New Way to Collaborate BYOD breaks the boundary of learning, giving teachers and students unlimited resources on the Internet and the ability to communicate in many different ways. It also creates opportunities for teachers and students to collaborate at a time and place they are most comfortable with. Page 4

5 Recommendations The requirements for implementing a successful BYOD program are varied, but each one is critical. Districts must ensure that the infrastructure is in place to handle the increase in traffic and that security is tight enough to protect confidential information. A policy must be developed that enhances learning, but in an environment where the district can maintain control over the program. Our recommendation is to phase the program in so that best practices can be repeated and documented, and challenges would be reduced or eliminated prior to a district-wide rollout. Training and allowing faculty and staff to experience the BYOD project first, would help them understand the value, opportunities and limitations. Before moving toward a more extensive implementation that would include students, the district should closely study and evaluate the impact, both positive and negative, and assess the feasibility, usefulness, benefits and challenges of implementing the BYOD program. We are recommending that the following steps be taken to ensure the best chance of success. 1. Network Three components related to the network are critical for a successful implementation - bandwidth, redundancy and scalability. A successful program will allow bandwidth to increase incrementally as the program ramps up from school to school. For schools involved in a BYOD program, the greatest demand for that bandwidth during school hours will likely come from video. Also, once the program expands to multiple schools, the likelihood of the network being adversely affected increases. Quality and consistency of the network is important, as well as ensuring that critical communication is available and maintained at all times. Evaluating the network to ensure it has the capacity to grow is critical. Districts must invest in upgrading the network if needed to make sure it can handle the future demand for capacity. 2. Network Management Successfully managing and maintaining a growing network comes from planning and ensuring everything meets or exceeds the expected demand. This could mean an upgrade or new tools and training for the IT staff. In the planning stages, allow the staff to try different devices and tools so that issues can be identified and solved prior to rolling it district-wide. There are a growing number of tools on the market that assist with network management. Some now provide 100% management of switches, routers, and other devices, as well as wireless management and the ability to power up and down based on expected utilization. This could also reduce costs since utilization would be reduced during weekends and long breaks. 3. Security The key question is one of balance between protecting the confidential information and privacy of the users, and ensuring network access for user-owned devices. Federal regulations Page 5

6 governing content filtering and firewalls are clear and have to be implemented by K-12 administrators in public schools. A primary focus of a district s Internet services could involve personal information security. Security components, such as firewalls and ID codes, ensure that improper content and context are not transmitted and that the information security and access policies of the district are enforced. All users would need to authenticate when they access the Internet. It will take time to set up and even more time to administer access from every student that signs up. The network can support a pilot easily, but if the BYOD program is rolled out for the entire district, there must be assurance that the number of devices that need Internet access is anticipated prior to implementation or that there will be some limitations to the devices allowed on the network. Once users are registered, new software can manage and monitor access and usage. Districts should consider a strong security model / policy to offer an elevated level of protection. A policy server is an excellent option because it not only authenticates, but also authorizes user access at the access layer for wired and wireless. 4. School-Owned Devices Almost every school provides some type of compute device for students to use on the campus and some allow students to take the device home. If BYOD is implemented, consideration will be needed to ensure that all students will have some type of access to the information, regardless of device ownership or where the device is located. Broadband access or some type of Wi-Fi should be available at home or a public safe area such as a library. Teachers or students could utilize Wi-Fi and VPN into the school network to access school resources, with the proper credentials and authorization. This should be possible with the firewalls and client / clientless VPN capabilities offered by that device. 5. Student-Owned Devices A decision must be made on what type of delivery system to pursue that allows broadcasting of the curriculum for mobile use. The delivery will very likely change, depending on the device and not all devices will be able to access the content in the same way. Prior to allowing students access to the network, districts should send out a survey to understand how many students have their own devices and the type of devices they use. The type and level of learning is another salient factor that will impact the decision of which devices should be allowed to access the school network. A successful BYOD plan doesn't necessarily have to support any or all devices. Very few businesses and institutions have the network, bandwidth and IT staff that can support all devices; so a decision will have to be reached on which ones to allow and support. Gartner states as it relates to BYOD In the short term to midterm, there will be more platforms to support; and probably in the longer term, a shift from supporting devices to supporting applications and data as technologies, such as HTML5, allows more device independence." NOTE - There is no limiting G3 or G4, other than through policy. Many of these devices will have Wi-Fi regardless and students will choose that over 3G/4G. Therefore, it should be encouraged Page 6

7 to utilize these devices by limiting them with wireless policy access, role-based access and Internet filtering. Policies should address this issue. 6. User Policies Review your network access, acceptable use and conduct policies as they apply to students and employees to determine if an update is needed to reflect the new issues involved in BYOD and mobile learning. It is important to clearly define upfront, the type and amount of support the end users can get from the IT staff, as well as the type of applications and services the district will be offering. This will set the parameters for the entire program right from the start. Most districts offer limited support for mobile devices, thus leaving it up to students and the manufacturers to solve connection and bandwidth use issues with mobile devices. Districts should deploy role-based access on wireless and wired networks, then deploy sponsored guest access, and continue to filter Internet traffic. 7. Knowledgeable IT Staff The IT staff must be prepared for the changes, questions and resulting challenges and risks surrounding BYOD. The schools that were researched offered different methods, tools and ideas for communicating their lessons to the students. It s important to allow teachers to utilize their strengths and the technology to reach as many students as possible through various learning styles and devices. This will be limited by the equipment and technology the IT staff can support. 8. Mobile Device Management (MDM) CBTS would recommend MDM at some point in the move toward BYOD. MDM will help the district manage the devices on the network. Without some type of management tool, this is extremely labor intensive. An MDM tool will allow the IT staff to properly support and track the devices on the network, if that is the goal. Gartner states that many organizations are electing to implement a mobile device management product to facilitate enrolling devices into the plan, to ensure that policy settings are pushed onto the device, to provide compliance reporting, to monitor usage/policy compliance, and to put configuration parameters onto the device for access to networks and Mobile Application Management (MAM) Another management tool that would assist districts is a solution that focuses more on controlling and managing the apps made available on the network, known in the industry as Mobile Application Management (MAM). MAM describes software and services that accelerate and simplify the creation of internally-developed or in-house mobile applications. It also describes the deployment and management of in-house and commercially available mobile apps used on both organization-provided and bring your own smart phones and tablet computers. When an employee/student brings a personal device into a business or school setting, MAM enables the IT staff to provision the device, download appropriate applications, control access to back-end data, and wipe the device if it is lost, or when its owner no longer works with the organization. Page 7

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