Don’t Be Scared of “Bring Your Own Device”

Working in technology administration, I have always bowed down to uniformity. I can’t help it…it’s the way we were all taught in the technology industry. It was routine and comfortable. Everyone got the exact same computer with the same image. Everyone had to login to active directory. Security groups were applied with abandon. I wax nostalgic just thinking about it.

But those days are coming to an end. This is due to a huge number of factors including ridiculously tight school district budgets, much lower computer prices and cloud computing. I believe more and more schools will soon adopt bring your own device (BYOD) as a matter of economic necessity and recognition of educational potential.

Don’t be scared of bring your own device…here’s why.

Our network will get corrupted!
First, and probably the biggest fear, is the issue of student viruses and malware. Yes, students will bring in infected computers. It’s going to happen. You can defend against this with a number of products which you probably already have in place. Unless, you are completely locked down, including all removable media (which is near impossible and certainly counterproductive in an educational setting), you most likely already handle this threat.

Student will not have access to network drives?
My answer to this is, “So what?” Sharing and storing content in the cloud is so easy these days there is really no reason for network shares.

Students will not have the same applications!
This depends upon a number of factors. To go to an effective BYOD model, you really must have a cloud solution. To over generalize, two types of cloud solutions exist for the school environment. One type is the “cloud applications model” such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office365. Everyone has their own desktop and applications on their device but can access web-based apps via a browser (i.e. Google Docs). The other type of cloud solution is “virtual desktop model”. This is where students login to a portal and everyone has the same applications and workspace. Practically any application can be delivered in this model. It’s like a wireless thin client. The benefit to this model is students and teachers can login to any device and have all of their apps and content. HP SchoolCloud is a good example of this system.

That was a long-winded discussion but in short, it is quite easy to get uniformity of applications in a BYOD model.

Some students will not be able to afford a computer.
This is true. When implementing this model, you need to develop a financial aid program that may include grants, scholarships and rental programs. Since your applications will be cloud-based, you will not have to buy high-priced machines.

Those are just a few of the reasons why technology administrators are fearful of BYOD programs. However, I believe these issues are surmountable and the benefits are well worth it. More students will have access to technology tools and the district realizes a cost savings.

Let me know what you think!