Recently I attended the Connecting the Dots roundtable seminar hosted by the Center for Digital Education. The event focused on digital technologies and the challenges and opportunities in K-12 schools. As a co-host of the roundtable on Policy and Practice for Internet Safety I had the opportunity to listen and chat with CIO’s, Directors of IT, Directors of Educational Technology, and Principals as they discussed their ideas and concerns related to teaching children to be good digital citizens.
We talked about cyber bullying, policy enforcement, and then to the fun stuff: Social Apps, One to One initiatives, BYOD, and Gaming as Learning Tool. The school districts (all from Colorado) had a range of responses related to social apps (embrace those commonly used, use closed education-specific apps, or no apps whatsoever), but an area they all agreed upon was BYOD. All of the districts- big, small, private, charter, or public – agreed that BYOD was the reality to be embraced and if done correctly it vastly improved students’ engagement levels and interactions in and out of the classroom. Colorado educators appear to be in synch with the rest of the nation. According to the NMC Horizon Report>2011 K-12 Edition, the time horizon for mobile devices and cloud computing trends within schools is one year. We are approaching the end of the traditional school year and this means schools will be wrestling with and implementing BYOD initiatives heavily in August 2012.
As a parent myself and a technophile, I was happy that all of the schools were actively conducting tests of One to One initiatives and/or working through the guidelines and policies needed to support BYOD as has Boulder Valley School District. Here are a few common questions that popped up repeatedly in our day of discussions:
How do we test out our equipment before rolling out to entire district?
With shrinking budgets, how do we teach our teachers to integrate the newest technologies?
How do we filter and secure devices that the school district doesn’t own?
How does the network support BYOD?
And here are two consistent concerns:
We had to get more IP addresses in January because smartphone/tablet usage increased by 50% after the holidays.
We see an increasing demand for technology, and a decrease in the human capital to support it.
And to corroborate this last challenge, The Horizon Report validates what we all intrinsically know, “People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.”
Here at Extreme Networks we cannot solve all of the challenges, but we can solve a few important ones. We have the ability to automatically provision devices and users, which can alleviate the pressure of the shrinking human capital within the IT team. Our identity management suite provides role-based access to resources to provide Quality User Experience without compromising security. Our snap-on wireless access points with built in firewalls provide coverage where you need it: in the classrooms.
Schools, educators, technologists, and parents all wrestle with the same question: How do we best prepare our students for the future? That future is Mobility. Extreme Networks can help you build tomorrow’s network, today.