Ready to Manage
In this video, you will see Bristol Township’s solution for giving students ownership in the process – they built a student technology team!
Are You Ready To Manage?
Let’s get technical. To support powerful use of technology, you’ll need powerful infrastructure. Some of the biggest lessons learned from our schools include the importance of a mobile device management system and a clear device incident workflow. View all challenges and lessons learned below!
Is your system ready?
Build robust infrastructure
Plan for up to three times the amount of devices on your system than the number of students in your schools. If teachers and students are using devices to their full creative potential, they will be doing a lot more than just editing a few documents. We recommend 100mb per 500 students and checking for 100% connectivity throughout the school.
- Once devices are in students’ hands, you’ll see patterns you didn’t plan for; be ready to make changes and updates!
- Have a system to collect feedback from students and teachers on what areas have a low signal. Many teachers will just adjust their lesson on the fly before reporting an issue.
- One hotspot between every two classrooms may not be enough depending on the layout and density of the building structure. You’ll want to ramp up the connection in common areas like the lobby and cafeteria as well.
Watch this video: “Who is the Behind-the-Scenes Hero of Technology in Schools? Meet Bob!”
Read: “How a Wisconsin School District Built a Wireless Infrastructure to Support BYOD” from the Ed Tech Magazine blog.
Read the Technology Requirements from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.
Test your access on SchoolSpeedTest.org.
Ensure that filtering, safety, and privacy precautions have been taken
Schools are required to filter the Internet content that students access while at school. Because districts involved in this program have an LTE signal on their tablets, they must filter content there as well. That way, students will receive the same filtering whether they are at school or away from school.
- One option is to use Open DNS. This allows IT to block categories or specific URLs through white/black listing. Although no-cost versions of Open DNS exist, we’ve learned that they are typically not as effective.
- Another option is to use VPN, a Virtual Private Network. Depending on network configuration, VPN allows the district to force all Internet traffic through the district filters.
- Another option is to use a private network. This creates a private and secure connection between the cellular provider and the district for cellular (LTE) traffic only. Private networks require specific equipment and time for installation.
- Finally, another option is Mobile Device Management (MDM). MDM provides the ability to manage devices remotely and restrict certain functions. Features of MDM systems vary. MDM controls the device, but it does not control or manage Internet traffic; it is typically used in conjunction with one of the options above (see also the section on MDM).
View the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) from the Federal Communications Commission.
Read “Filtering in Schools” from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).
Use a mobile device management solution
Mobile Device Management (frequently called MDM) is a set of online tools that allow a district IT department to remotely manage what apps and content go on a mobile device, and to control the features of the device. All tablet one to one projects should use MDM (and all Digital Promise Verizon Innovative Learning schools are required to use MDM).
- As schools select new apps to use, they will be wirelessly pushed out to student and teacher devices.
- MDM tools vary according to which system the district uses, but all MDM systems include the ability to control many aspects of the way student devices function. For example, the district may decide to disable the device’s ability to use a messaging app.
- Some MDM tools can help districts retrieve lost devices.
Read “10 School Solutions for Mobile Device Management” from eSchoolNews.
Are your processes ready?
Create a procurement process to evaluate new apps and tools
Without a process to recommend apps, your teachers will get overwhelmed with all of the options. We’ve learned that a process is essential, and that asking teachers to evaluate high-quality resources needs to include ALL resources – digital and static. This prevents an either/or discussion (either I use digital tools, or I don’t), and gives the school a chance to re-evaluate their funding allocation.
- Work with your teacher leadership team to create a rubric for how to evaluate high-quality resources (digital and static).
- Consider asking students to help test apps and tools as well.
- Look across the current tools used in all school-wide processes and identify places where efficiencies could be created by using a new solution.
Read the Improving Ed-Tech Purchasing market study on the Digital Promise blog.
Read “Apps in the Classroom” from Apple.
Check out “Ways to Evaluate Educational Apps” from Learning in Hand.
Have a strategy for ongoing technical support
The learning coach cannot be the strategy for ongoing technical support; she/he should be the voice and conversation of learning. Other alternatives include in-house IT support, a very clear IT process, and a student leadership team.
- Creating a student leadership team goes a lot further than just providing support; students will help prevent problems by being the eyes and ears on the ground.
- Identify a few students in every class who can learn basic troubleshooting; they can help with issues that teachers might normally call in for support.
- Use a ticketing system and check regularly for common issues that could be prevented.
- Develop a device incident workflow and communicate broadly what steps should be taken when a device isn’t working properly.
Watch this video: “Don’t Put Technology in Schools Without Doing This First”, featuring Evanston-Skokie District 65 and Bristol Township School District.
Watch this video: “Student Technology Teams: Meet the Tiger Techs”, featuring Armstrong Middle School.
Read our blog post “Remember that Students are your Best Partners”
Read: “Student-run genius bar: The facilitator’s guide” from ISTE.