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Articles: Mobile

Donald Leu (center) leads the team of the New Literacies Research Lab at the University of Connecticut.

Today’s students may be skilled at texting and social media, but many are unable to perform online research and distinguish accurate information on the web, according to a new study.

School districts will make their biggest tech investments in tablets and WiFi in 2015. (Click to enlarge chart)

Computing devices embedded in jewelry and glasses. Microchips tattooed into skin and sewn into clothing. In one form or another, devices that gather data without any help from the user will slowly infiltrate districts in 2015. In fact, the number of people with a wearable computing device will more than triple this year.

A media specialist in the Cherry Hills Christian Schools in Colorado helps a student with a lesson. The district combined an MDM solution with district-owned iPads for student learning.

Whether devices are tablets or laptops, or owned by the school or the student, they all require IT support. Recent support developments include bundling digital learning applications and the physical device with the cost of mobile device management (MDM) software.

The FCC recommends schools have internet access of  at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users in the short term. The FCC will provide $1 billion per year for  Wi-Fi connections in 2015 and 2016.

High-speed broadband is in and phones are out, according to the recent FCC order to update the federal E-rate program. Administrators will have new funds to expand district Wi-Fi capacity, but will need to make up for lost phone and email subsidies.

Amanda Jelen is a fourth-grade teacher at Holy Redeemer School in Marshall, Minn.

Holy Redeemer School, a Catholic K8 school in Minnesota, is focused on delivering an educational environment that differentiates the learning experience for each child’s specific needs.

Part of that initiative involves giving every student, including those in kindergarten, a tablet to engage them in their education. We had heard stories of failed tablet implementations in other schools, and were determined to avoid similar mistakes in our own rollout.

Teachers can use products from companies such as AirWatch to manage student devices in the classroom.

Mobile device management is now a central part of classroom supervision as teachers compete with laptops, tablets and phones for students’ attention.

The ability to freeze a device’s screen, block inappropriate apps or lock students into particular educational content can help teachers transition smoothly to online testing, 1-to-1 and BYOD, experts say.

Chris LaPoint is vice president of product management at SolarWinds.

Just when you thought you had devices figured out, it’s becoming apparent that apps are a new, true threat. BYOD has led to BYOA—bring-your-own-app—and focus must now shift from devices to software.

The constantly expanding world of mobile education means apps have become the tech of choice for implementing the Common Core State Standards. Administrators must now wade through hundreds of Common Core-aligned apps to determine which will get the best results.

While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Rural schools that don’t have the ability to build or maintain a wireless network may have another option that gives students internet access in class and at home: LTE networks.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a wireless technology that offers fast data download and upload speeds for cell phones and tablets. While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

The main goal of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative is to shift funding from outdated technology to build broadband and Wi-Fi networks to give all schools high-speed internet access.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

Students use their own mobile devices to work out math problems in an economics and personal finance class at Marshall High School in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  (Photo: Donnie Biggs)

Districts that have implemented BYOD successfully have found building a powerful Wi-Fi network, developing explicit acceptable use policies, and communicating those policies clearly to students, parents and teachers are critical steps in the technology transition.

School administrators are using mobile software applications to remain highly productive no matter where they are. These same apps also are making it easier to create learning communities where leaders can share a wide range of information with other districts.

At Madison County Schools in Alabama, technology coordinator Tom Whitten, above on left, meets with his IT team to solve bandwidth issues in the district’s schools.

The wireless networks at six high schools in the Madison County Schools in Alabama are now humming at full power after administrators figured out how to prevent a new wave of new smartphones, tablets and other devices from overwhelming bandwidth capacity.

Students in the app development class at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, N.Y., met with hearing-impaired community members.

Students in a STEM pilot project at Grover Cleveland High School in Queens, N.Y., have developed a number of innovative mobile apps to help the hearing impaired.

Christopher J. Librandi is an Connecticut-based attorney who practices business law, including information technology.

The age of textbooks and filing cabinets is coming to an end. Smart phones, tablets and cloud storage are the tools of the day.

Most students probably have their own devices by the time they reach middle school and most school districts use cloud services for record retention and data analysis.

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