In our introduction to this two part blog series, I described how smartphones and tablets are changing the way instructors and students interact within the classroom, and common concerns among education administrators and IT management in face of this new technology. In this blog, I will help describe how these devices can be managed, enabling a secure and productive use in and out of the classroom. To curb the pain points of BYOD, IT must look for mobile device management (MDM) solutions that allow them to maintain a tighter grip on their mobile ecosystem. IT must urge all mobile device owners to enroll their devices in the enterprise MDM platform.
When selecting an MDM platform, IT must evaluate mobile solutions for the following factors:
- Resolving Device Inequity Crises: Dispatching standard mobile devices or settling down on a specific device type is not always a scalable or viable solution. Instead, IT must study their mobile ecosystem, understand their needs and look for devices that are popular with a large group of students, staff and faculty.
Then, they must look at MDM solutions that allow them to support multiple devices, multiple operating systems and can easily accommodate the dynamic nature of their mobile ecosystem. An MDM solution must be scalable in the long run and allow IT departments to rapidly deploy and manage new and old devices.
Lastly, MDM platforms must work harmoniously with legacy platforms and data modules.
- Curtailing Distractions: IT can define different geo-fencing policies to ward off social distractions such as gaming applications, networking groups and distracting content. The best MDM solutions allow IT to define multiple policies and enforce them only when the devices are on campus. This will ensure that the devices aid the users in their learning process, while offering them the flexibility to use the device outside of the educational setting.
- Defining Internet Content Filtering Rules and Policies: Filtering Internet content is an important objective of an educational IT department. IT can define policies that:
- Restrict student user groups from accessing any specified site
- Blacklist applications violating the content consumption criteria
- Restrict the use of 3G or 4G wireless technologies
- Send alerts for BYOD devices consuming illegal content and violating laws
- Securing Content Distribution and Management: Many MDM solutions allow IT to give rights to faculty and staff for distributing and sharing content in a safe and secure manner. IT can also define mobile policies to enforce encryption on all BYOD and in-house mobile devices accessing or housing any intellectual property. Unauthorized distribution of this content can be prevented, and access to the content can be revoked when the user no longer requires it.
- Private or In-house App Stores: In-house app stores are a smart way of managing your app ecosystem. They make it possible to distribute and manage apps across all devices from a single centralized console; all while preventing malicious applications making the rounds. As required, they can send notifications about app updates or alert device owners on lagging app versions.
Bring your own preparation
Beyond the technology-centric MDM solution, it is highly recommended that IT staff sit with different user groups (including students) to understand their mobile needs, preferred applications, settings and content protection requirements. It is also important to have a well-defined BYOD policy, and to take steps to enforce it effectively.
Are you ready for BYOD? What questions and concerns do you still have? Please share with us your BYOD experiences on campus in the comments section below.