Schools that want to integrate devices into their curriculum while managing their budget will turn to BYOD as a cost-effective solution. Here’s an important question: is it actually less expensive? Between the network requirements, additional staffing, and vulnerabilities you expose yourself (and your students) to, BYOD can be a pretty costly initiative.
Here are some common problems we see with BYOD (and what you can do about them):
Problem 1: Nothing is Standard
When you give students carte blanche to bring whatever device they choose into your school, you are inviting several issues. First, teachers will have to be experts on different models, manufacturers, and operating systems if any student has problems with accessing information on his/her device (which will definitely happen). In addition to tech support, certain operating systems or outdated antivirus software can make your entire network vulnerable to viruses that can spread to EVERY machine on campus.
Narrow your list of acceptable devices to a few select options (really, the choice should be two or three, maximum). You can then choose operating systems that effectively combat viruses, and your faculty will have the opportunity to become familiar enough with them to provide basic assistance when the need arises.
Problem 2: You Don’t Have a BYOD Policy (Or You’re Not Enforcing Your Policy Well)
If you’re allowing BYOD, you are inherently telling your students and faculty that it’s safe for them to connect, which means you need to have a pretty robust policy in place to ensure that devices on your network are virus free. Just having the right type of device is not enough to make sure that the technology functions and everyone is safe to join. You will also need to ensure that you have protocols in place for your network to handle the added load while verifying that each device attempting to join is acceptable and updated correctly.
Your IT team should determine how to verify the devices that are allowed to connect, how your network will discover any antivirus software that is out of date and confirm that the device will be able to use the applications necessary for your curriculum. Once that policy is in place, there are absolutely, positively, and without a doubt NO EXCEPTIONS.
Problem 3: Your Staff Can’t Handle the Added Workload
Think about how many people it takes to manage all the facets of BYOD. You need a solid switching and wireless infrastructure, device posture assessments, identity service control, mobile device management, Layer 7 inspection as close to the source as possible, and a capable team to manage the policy umbrella for the BYOD plan. Actually, since this is an important initiative, you will probably need two of each. Yay for redundancy!
With so many factors out of your control (because you don’t own the actual devices), you simply need to have the necessary staff on hand to assist with the requirements of BYOD. And let’s be clear: This SHOULD NOT mean that you simply hand these duties to your current IT staff. They have enough to do already. Trust us.
With all the complications that BYOD can bring—extra staff, infrastructure, teacher time and training, and variables for failure, you should really consider the control and sanity that a 1:1 initiative can offer. It might seem more expensive in the beginning, but considering your staffing, the risk, and infrastructure requirements, it might just end up being the better deal.
Want to learn more about the changing landscape in K-12 IT?
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