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Using Mobile Device Management

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How does your school monitor and manage its mobile devices?  Do you have school/class based mobile devices?  Do you BYOD (Bring your own device)?  Or a combination of both?  How do you ensure that your work based devices are monitored and the way they are used studied?  Do they get used for the reason that people wanted them?   Which teachers use them?  Which apps are mostly used?  Where do your devices travel around your school?  Do you have access to Volume Purchase Program (VPP) through Apple?  What does your school or PE Department or IT office do?

A recent study indicates that more employees are using their own devices at work and that in using their own devices they are happier, more productive and less stressed.  Is it time that we looked at how we could do the same for the devices we use at school and with our students.  If we can use devices at school that mirror those that they own, or we can give students mobile devices that they can use in PE or other subjects, we may see some shift in the comfort of technology, their experiences as peer coaches as well as start to shift in our classes to the high use of mobile technology that happens in real-life outside of school.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a set up that monitors all of your mobile devices bridging the divide between operation systems and types.  The focus is to optimize mobile communication, to lessen frustration and to ensure security and functionality in your workplace.  There are many different companies that offer MDM packages and when you begin to read more about these systems, it is clear from company testimonials that there are some big name companies and government departments already using this software and for good reason.

As we move more and more into a mobile device dominated world, it is important that we track who is logging onto our workplace networks and sharing potentially confidential documents through iCloud type servers and through personal devices.  While this might not be as important to Educational settings, it is clear that it is worth investigating within certain Government departments or to keep patent secrets in companies like Apple or Google.

Network Asia reports that Forrester Research predicts that with the growth in Mobile devices, companies that operate using them will have to manage them very differently in the future.  Keeping these MDM platforms up to date with the current trend/s is going to prove important as we see more devices and more uses of them in our workplaces.

There are a bunch of different companies offering MDM platforms.  Ken Hess writing for ZDnet has kindly listed the top 10 MDM suites (in alphabetical order) that are worth investigating for schools or companies looking into this for their employees.  Amongst the things to look out for, Hess writes that the MDM you choose must  support more than one platform and must support Apple iOS to be most productive and keep up with current usage.

But what does an MDM provide in an Educational setting?  Depending on where your school is and how MDM works with other systems like Apple, there is a lot that can be added by using one.  Here is a list of how it could be utilised for school mobile devices:

  • centralise management of school device inventory, reporting, updates and installs – remove having one person plug in each device to a mother computer for updates and installs, you only need to select the devices you want to put certain apps or other on and send them automatically.
  • Remote configuration, password and wiping – add a password to all the class iDevices or wipe off information if the device is stolen or leaves campus by mistake.
  • Manage devices across platforms – not sure if you want to use Apple or Android?  use both, have the ability to manage any platform your choose from your MDM
  • Remotely turn off or remove apps that are not required for your class – have the ability to take off any apps that will distract your PE class but put them back on for use in your Science group on the same day without having to plug them in or have them close to your Mother computer.
  • VPP – work with Apple for Volume Purchasing so that you are not ‘stealing’ apps but buying them legitimately for each of your devices.
  • Work with app vendors directly – go outside of Google Store or iTunes and buy from vendors directly selling apps and have them uploaded externally run by your MDM.
  • GPS – track where your devices are being used
  • Monitor use- monitor which apps are being used and when to ensure that your money has been well spent.
  • Privacy – protect student photos or data from being emailed from a school device to private email or other online programs.  Limit programs or social media during certain hours or remove inappropriate sites or information gathering from school devices.
  • Allow both school and BYOD to run through MDM.  This would mean that students (and teachers/parents) would need to sign up to your MDM platform and would need to be informed of the information that can be gathered through this, but this would allow you to monitor information and how it is shared.

There are other ways to use MDM’s in schools, but this starts off with some ideas for our school and others.

Some other posts or inquiries about what other schools are using can be found here.  Dana Watts at the American School in Delhi and she is a guru on iPads and iPad Education.  Her school uses Casper Suite as this also works with Apple VPP, she would be another person to contact for more information.

If you have anything to share on what your school does and how we could learn from your efforts, please leave a comment so we can work out what we are going to do as we deploy more iDevices at UNIS Hanoi next year.

2 Comments

  • mhamada

    Thanks Bruce for your comment. I am really just learning more about the arguments for BYOD and MDM and am having to learn fast as I test our iPods on our existing school server. I will check out your article to see what others are up to, I am moving to Yokohama Int’l school next year and we will be much more on Mobile devices (ipad and ipad mini) so I am very keen to read more about how we can keep this system open, not just teachers telling kids what to do, but sharing the resources that are in abundance online and on mobile devices. SSIS in Ho Chi Minh City uses Open Software and is very into allowing students and teachers to negotiate how they decide to work on their assessment – device and apps/programs and I am drawing inspiration from Urko Masse who is really got me thinking how are we going to get things into and out of each of these programs and apps and what happens to content that is ‘on’ something that is no longer maintained. I hope you will come back and provide more follow up information here with us Bruce.

  • Bruce Furmele

    Nice article Mel,

    While an MDM can be useful in the school setting, especially if the devices are school or department purchased and rolled out to the students such as in a 1:1 scenario, another issue to consider is how to put content on the students devices that is controlled by the teaching staff. Sure there are apps that specialize in teaching specific topics (e.g. maths), but what if that app doesn’t perfectly fit your teaching plan, level of knowledge or rate of learning for your students?

    Natively the mobile tablet is a consumer device, not designed specifically for content provision from a single source, other than the web browser. As a result it’s usually easier for staff to pick an already available app and amend the teaching plan to suit the content that can find for free. Not an ideal way of teaching students, and the staff have no control over the content of the app or even it’s ongoing availability.

    I recently read about a school using a product to provide content to students that you and your readers may also find interesting. http://t.co/7ahV1l1Sm6

    What I like about their approach is that the teaching staff can contribute, amend and grow the body of information that the students have available to them on and offline to suit the subject, required learning and any end of year assessment criteria.

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