The mobility trend is surging into the world of K-12 education, with more elementary and high schools embracing the idea of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, since mobile devices are now ubiquitous. Nearly all Americans – 95 percent – own some kind of cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center, while 77 percent have a smartphone and nearly half use their own tablet. It’s only logical to find that these are the most common personal devices used in today’s classroom.
Although technology has been a mainstay of K-12 education for some time, the shift toward BYOD has created new challenges for schools, particularly around network support for so many devices. Even districts that can afford to supply tablets or Chromebooks for students have to contend with the massive traffic demands of so many devices in use at the same time. A slow network or disrupted service reduces the benefits of students using these devices in class.
Another challenge is compatibility. To take advantage of a school’s digital asset – such as learning management systems, teacher pages and library resources – smartphones and tablets must easily connect to the school’s communications technology.
As K-12 administrators evaluate ways to support mobility in their schools, their logical starting point will be communications infrastructure. To get this right, it’s helpful to understand how the technology works and what’s required to support mobility and BYOD.
Communications in education need to be dependable and flexible. Learn what other considerations you should take into account before making a purchase. >
How communications technology solves the BYOD challenge
While many BYOD obstacles can be addressed with proper training and usage monitoring, network support and device compatibility require communications technology that’s flexible, adaptable and scalable.
Here are some of the features necessary to support BYOD and mobility.
Support for mixed environments. Some classrooms may be in basements or other areas that have poor wireless service. Improved Wi-Fi in these environments is a must.
A self-contained, locally managed mobile network solution. Your school should have control over voice messaging and data services that operate independently from the public mobile network.
A private mobile network that provides continuity and resilience in the event of public network congestion or outage.
A cloud solution where data and information are available on any device, allowing all students, teachers and administrators seamless access to educational resources.
Single point of access for all communications and collaboration needs – such as messaging, web and video chat and voicemail –from almost any smartphone or tablet for both faculty and students.
A WAN that provides full access to campus services and collaboration tools regardless of device, location, network and access technology.
IP communications that extend to wherever the network reaches. This includes WAN, LAN, Wi-Fi and broadband networks.
A single software stream that delivers a consistent user experience along with the freedom to choose your own device, network and environment (dedicated or virtualized).
Why K-12 Schools Should Invest in Mobility
K-12 schools can reap many benefits from a unified communications solution that supports mobility. These include:
- Consistent user experience and access to collaboration capabilities on mobile devices and tablets of choice, regardless of make, model and network.
- Real-time exchange of information and ideas between students and teachers.
- An interactive and collaborative work environment that increases productivity and makes completing assignments and projects easier.
K-12 schools have much to gain from a BYOD program – but only if they can address the network demands and device compatibility issues that come with the technological shift. The right communications technology can make or break your BYOD program, so be sure to identify vendors that support mobility and BYOD, so everyone in your K-12 community can benefit.