Summary: Increased BYOD spending and device fleets may challenge educators and IT pros, but a robust MDM platform can keep devices of all kinds in good discipline.
Are mobile devices bringing chaos to the classroom? Educators and school IT staff certainly face a far greater range and volume of devices than ever before. This year, 1 in 2 Australian families expect to spend more on laptops, tablets, and other tech than 2017, with technology accounting for nearly a third of total school supply purchases on average. And as schools themselves ramp up investment in their own device fleets, keeping order in the digital classroom may prove a challenge for some.
“As a teacher, you’re no longer thinking in terms of worksheets and textbooks: the way in which you provide lesson materials has taken on a whole new level with these digital devices,” says Jesse Cardy, who’s a Microsoft Solutions Specialist for the education industry. “That means you and the IT department need platforms that can quickly, consistently, and flexibly roll out all sorts of digital resources, from links to videos to apps, onto every device in your classroom.”
BYOD only compounds the challenge. While managing multiple shared devices–which often move between classrooms and students of different needs–already proves complex, introducing different operating systems or even hardware models can, if educators aren’t careful, lead to a breakdown in technology discipline altogether.
“You need a system to not only distribute resources to your devices, but also understand and account for the different OS requirements that can come into play,” Cardy cautions. “Even in schools currently running on a single OS and device type, educators should future-proof their classrooms for adoption of different devices and apps as much as possible.”
Discipline for Devices
Many Australian schools already use Microsoft Intune for Education as their mobile device management, or MDM, platform of choice. A variant of the enterprise-grade Intune MDM, Intune for Education lets teachers and school IT staff quickly deploy applications and content (such as videos or links) to any number of devices at once, distributing these resources based on students’ unique logins rather than the physical devices themselves. On the back-end, Intune for Education gives IT managers several time-saving features–such as self-service password resets and automatic device enrolment–designed to tackle some of the biggest issues with handling hardware issues in the classroom.
“Unlike in other industries, education settings require a style of device management that really takes out any interruption to the student’s learning flow,” Cardy explains. “If you’re waiting for a password reset or a device to be added to your class, your kids may quickly lose focus or fall behind the rest of their peers in a particular activity.”
“Australian teachers already spend huge amounts of time using game-engines like Minecraft or hands-on sets like the Arduino to make their lessons as relevant and engaging as possible. Having the right MDM platform in place is essential for that effort to truly shine and get kids involved in the classroom.”
Intune for Education streamlines functionality, however, leaves out some of the more powerful capabilities of its enterprise-grade parent…including the ability to manage non-Windows 10 devices. Will that leave Australian schools out in the cold? Not anymore: every purchase of Intune EDU now ships with not only the original Intune, but also a range of free licences for students once every teacher’s registered.
“Even the best MDM platform can’t cover all bases,” Cardy explains, “but Intune for Education’s bundle ensures that educators can keep devices of all types in line across the school. Both platforms are designed on the same basic principle: the faster you can get each device started and integrated with your existing school data systems, the better.”
Ultimately, MDM platforms succeed when they take the focus away from devices and put it back on what really matters. “The mobile device, whether it’s a laptop or tablet or any future gadget, is fundamentally no different from a book or worksheet: it’s just the container for the lesson,” Cardy says. “The less disciplinary issues we have with our devices, the more our teachers’ work can challenge, encourage, and inspire children like it’s designed to.”
Watch Jesse Cardy talk about why Intune for Education’s becoming the leading MDM package for Australian schools on our YouTube channel.
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