It would be unwise to think that a school can continue further into 2020 without introducing some kind of mobile device strategy into the classroom. However, this introduction to EdTech must be done with care to ensure that you have the right equipment for your students and teachers. This is why it’s important to build a proper mobile device strategy that will allow your school to flourish.
We highly recommend that you start the process by bringing together all of the stakeholders: IT administrators, teachers and parents. They will all be impacted by this change to your school and their input will help you create a strategy that everyone is onboard for. From there, ask yourself these questions:
- How do you pick the right device or devices?
- BYOD, 1:1, shared devices?
- How are you going to roll the program out?
- What additional equipment and software will you need?
- Who will need to be trained on the program?
- Building a school mobile device strategy together
How do you pick the right device or devices?
The actual device being used in the classroom can have a big impact on the lesson plan. It’s essential to look at how your teachers want to teach and do some investigations into what kind of devices give you the best options. The students’ ages will also play a part in this equation. Younger children need far less functionality than someone in high school, for example. Another thought is that a tablet may be better for students in art or design classes, but a Chromebook or laptop will be of more use in research and writing intensive subjects.
From a practical point of view, it’s also important to consider cost, functionality and durability when preparing your school’s mobile device strategy. That last one is especially important because you are going to be handing these devices over to students. School bags have a tendency to get dropped or thrown around from time to time, making durability an important factor to consider when making the decision.
Then it’s a case of weighing up the price versus the functionality you get. Students may not need all the fancy bells and whistles that some devices offer. However, they will need something with a good processor that can handle constant use for several years.
A BYOD, 1:1 or shared mobile device strategy?
These are the three more popular ways schools are getting devices into the classroom.
BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device. This is when the parents are asked to get a device for their child to use in their lessons. It seems like a good idea because you as the school don’t have to worry about paying for a fleet of devices and their upkeep. However, some schools have referred to this system as Bring Your Own Disaster… This is because it can be difficult to dictate to the parents what they must get for their child and you end up with very little consistency in the classroom. This can lead to headaches when trying to give everyone access to the same learning apps or online materials.
The other options – 1:1 and shared – require the school to purchase the devices and hand them out to the students. In a 1:1 setup, each student gets their own device to use for the school year. With a shared system, multiple students will use one device and have their own login for their work. This means that they can’t always take the device home for projects. Additionally, teachers will have to plan their lessons carefully around when the devices are available.
All of these options come with pros and cons, and it’s up to the school to look at what will work for them. Taking into consideration their budget for buying devices, the ability to dictate certain specifications, or even specific models. These factors and the degree of involvement of parents will play a large role in the decision making.
How are you going to roll the program out?
If you are starting out with a brand new school mobile device strategy, it might be a good idea to pilot a grade first. Select one year in your school and try out your proposed plan with them. This will teach you a lot before you have to invest in the full infrastructure for the entire school. You can also then deploy the strategy on a year-by-year basis. Introduce new devices at the same grade each year and let the now older students move on with their device strategy already in place.
However, not all circumstances lend themselves to this gradual rollout. To assist in a more rapid rollout, Mobile Guardian is offering our classroom management tools and premium web-filtering services for free for the remainder of the 2020 school year. Helping to manage costs and make the implementation of your mobile device strategy easier. You may find out more on our free tools available to schools here.
What additional equipment and software will you need?
Infrastructure is key to a successful school mobile device strategy. A strong internet signal throughout the campus or home environment is essential. You also need to have the correct cables and switches running throughout your grounds in the school scenario. Without a proper setup for connectivity, a digital learning program cannot survive.
You also need to consider the software that should go along with the devices so that you can get the most out of them. Your first stop should be a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution to ensure your devices are safe and that you can properly monitor them. With Mobile Guardian, you’ll get a wide range of security tools that will show you how the devices are being used and where they are.
You’ll also get classroom management tools that allow you to keep an eye on how your students are coping with their lessons and help you tailor their learning experience.Mobile Guardian’s classroom management tools provide an insightful view on the digital behaviour of a class and their engagement with the lesson. Teachers are able to directly view the content of their student’s screen through their dashboard and directly engage with students. Via direct messaging and even intervention on the students device, teachers are able to guide their student’s online learning experience.
Who will need to be trained on the program?
Getting new devices is great, but it does mean that everyone needs to learn how to use them to their full potential. You may want to consider sending your teachers and IT administrators on a course to learn about the devices and the software you plan to deploy on them. It’s also essential that your IT administrator understands the full network infrastructure that you deploy across your school grounds. If they can’t maintain it, you’ll need a budget for calling out a repair specialist every time something goes wrong.
Teachers will need to know how to get the best out of the digital teaching tools that they have available and are able to easily function within this digital environment. Google for Education contains a powerful set of tools that greatly enhances the online learning experience. Schools are able to transform the way their teachers work online, additionally it is free for schools and contains the major tools within the Google suite.
Pro tip: When it comes to learning about and maintaining the actual school devices, you can also look to your students. Teenagers often know far more about this kind of technology than adults. They may easily be able to help out and will likely enjoy the element of trust and responsibility given to them.
Building a school mobile device strategy with a partner
Considering how many people will be impacted by deploying a school mobile device strategy, it’s important to have an open dialogue throughout the process. At Mobile Guardian, we believe that EdTech makes learning better but collaboration enhances the end result tremendously. So start with getting the input of all the stakeholders and build your strategy together, and then enjoy the results that a successful implementation yields.
Also bear in mind, that there are organisations that have vast experience in implementing these strategies and having them involved from the start can help alleviate many headaches further down the line.
If you would like to find out how Mobile Guardian may be of help in developing your mobile device strategy, contact us for a 14 day free trial or demo to find out more on how we may be able to assist in this process!
The Mobile Guardian Team