What Makes a BYOD Program Successful in Schools?


Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, is a growing trend in K-12 education. By letting students use their own tablets or laptops in school, teachers, principals, and parents are adding another dimension to students' education. I would argue that encouraging students to bring their own laptops and tablets teaches them responsibility, gives them the opportunity to keep all of their notes and assignments organized in one place, and puts endless amounts of information at their fingertips.

During my junior year of high school, students and teachers were given Wi-Fi access. The administration encouraged teachers to allow students to bring their own devices to try it out and see if using laptops and tablets for note taking was easier and more efficient than using pen and paper. Some teachers readily approved of the idea, while others worried about cheating and gaming during class and did not allow us to use our devices. At the end of my junior year, something disastrous occurred. More on that in a moment.

When students bring their own devices to school they learn and practice being responsible. Students will take care of their devices and try to protect them from theft, misplacement, and damage. They learn acceptable behavior and how to appropriately use their devices during school hours. This provides the opportunity to practice digital citizenship as they peruse the Internet.

Students can find ways to keep their work organized on their devices and have the ability to bring work home for studying. Homework cannot be forgotten if it is electronic and available on the student device. Students that learn to take proper notes and stay organized on their own devices can study more effectively resulting in a better education and higher grades.

BYOD places an infinite amount of information at students’ and teachers’ fingertips. This enhances education by making it easier to find and verify information immediately, saving valuable learning time that would otherwise be wasted due to searching and waiting for answers.

Another benefit to school districts can be saving cost. By letting students bring their own devices the school won’t need to purchase as many. Students also won’t need to be trained how to use the devices they are already familiar with.

Bring Your Own Device programs have been very successful in most districts, but there have been challenges in others. For a successful implementation, districts need to prepare for the thousands of extra devices that will now be on the network, implement filtering (so students don’t download something by accident), and insure they have visibility into what applications are being used by students and which ones are being abused so that the administrators can fix it.

The Extreme Networks Options

Extreme Wireless offers unparalleled, high density Wi-Fi access. The Wi-Fi connects students, parents, and teachers with each other and information constantly. Extreme Wi-Fi delivers a better experience, stronger relationship, and accelerates learning outcomes. Students, teachers, and administrators expect wireless Internet to be simple, fast, and smart with every device they have on the school campus. Our wireless is simple because it delivers new applications and services with one click and is managed effortlessly with an intuitive dashboard. With our fast wireless connection, troubleshooting is faster and connections can be established while roaming. Extreme Wireless is incredibly smart and is able to measure user experience through its unprecedented analytics.

Extreme’s Security Analytics was created to capture real-time data and reveal possible network attackers. Our analytics store every activity that takes place on the network and then perform tests to determine real threats from false positives. With Security Analytics a district’s IT department can quickly identify network attacks and prioritize them from most dangerous to least harmful. The Extreme Networks Security Vulnerability Manager can help schools lower the possibilities of a security breach by locating weaknesses and minimizing potential risks. Its proven vulnerability scanner collects up-to-date results and leverages the capabilities of Extreme Networks Security Analytics Platform to present data within the overall context of the network usage, security, and threat posture.

The Disaster During My Junior Year

At the end of my high school junior year, a student brought a virus onto the network that basically compromised the entire network for the last month of school. This devastated the network and created extra animosity with teachers, the administration, and students. Some teachers’ online gradebooks were compromised and had to be reentered for the entire semester. Computer sign on times and Internet speed were “DSL slow” and valuable learning time was lost because of troubleshooting. If my school had Extreme Networks Security Analytics and Security Manager, the IT department would have been able to stop the virus from compromising the network and files.

Extreme Analytics addresses the concern some of the teachers had about gaming. It provides monitoring of exactly what students are doing on the network during school. Administration could have shut down gaming, social media, and other sites that did not pertain to schooling. This would have made my high school teachers feel more open to the BYOD program at the time and would have benefited students like me who wanted to use our devices for note taking and convenience.

Extreme Cloud Management allows administrators to see and control wired/wireless networks from the data center. It uses intelligence, automation, and integration of your management software to optimize the efficiency of network operations and reduce total cost. Extreme Networks Application Analytics allows your IT staff to optimize your network. It captures network data and analyzes, correlates, and reports on its status to enable better decision making and improved performance. Optimization is available for the network and every application.

Jason Jones, the director of technology for Stonington Public School explains, “Extreme Analytics provides us with a global view of the overall health of the network from a single pane of glass. It’s the first stop in the troubleshooting process when network issues are discovered and it enables us to pinpoint issues and drill down to a specific closet or client for fast resolution.” Extreme’s Application Analytics offers better troubleshooting by enabling the possibility of eliminating issues before they happen to increase user satisfaction and experience. The IT department can analyze what applications students are using and if they are using programs that should not be used they can restrict access to those applications based on the data captured from Application Analytics.

In Summary

BYOD programs can lead to more effective learning environments for both students and teachers. The program teaches responsibility, encourages organization on devices, and offers the opportunity to have endless amounts of information available at any moment. The BYOD program encourages student engagement, saves money, and enhances education; but schools need to have a strong network and must be prepared for certain circumstances; such as students trying to cheat or viruses attempting access into the network.

When implementing a BYOD or similar program, I suggest careful preparation and assurance that the best security and management systems are in place. The learning environment won’t be effective if the district does not have a Wi-Fi network that can support thousands of devices, is not protected from outside threats, does not protect privacy, and/or allows students to access inappropriate websites.

About the Author
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Lisa Yeaton
Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing

Lisa Yeaton is a Senior Manager, Corporate Marketing at Extreme Networks. In her role, Lisa oversees all of Extreme's corporate social media accounts and creates corporate communications content.

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