Supporting 1-to-1 Device Deployments and ConnectED
One of the key struggles in implementing most 1-to-1 programs is figuring out how to manage device deployments with limited staffing. However, a comprehensive enterprise-grade support system like Sprint’s Wireless Campus Manager can help districts with device management support efforts such as asset staging, asset tagging and tracking, and remote control of the device. In this web seminar, originally broadcast on June 11, 2014, industry experts shared the best practices for 1-to-1 device management, as well as how ConnectED, a White House initiative to bring high-speed internet access to students, can play a role in supporting 1-to-1. Other topics included the importance of a robust network infrastructure and how ConnectED can impact future district technology plans.
Derby Public Schools (Conn.)
We’re changing from being a system-centric to a student-centric district. To do this, we’re moving toward a blended model of learning. Now, for the first time, it is possible to individualize education to teach each person what he or she needs and wants to know in ways that are most comfortable and most efficient. We talked to students in outside districts that had introduced blended learning and who were not in the day-to-day classes. We asked them what they liked about their program, and it was the individualized learning. It was the freedom to learn when and where they wanted. We asked them what they missed and it was everything else—the social environment, the face-to-face with the teacher.
So for us it’s really about preserving that brick-and-mortar environment, and introducing the laptop and the wireless as tools to use in the classroom while delivering curriculum online with teacher support. This combines the strengths of the face-to-face and technology-enhanced learning. In our district, that face-to-face piece is so important. A lot of us talk about learning anytime, anywhere, anyplace. The unintended result that many districts experience while providing laptops without connectivity outside of school is that it actually widens the achievement gap, because some students will have access and some won’t. So we’re trying to truly bridge the digital divide by providing both the device and 24/7 connectivity for every child in grades 6-12 in school and at home. Derby is a small district, with 1,400 students and limited resources. We have a single person in our technology department, but this summer we hired an actual director to oversee this project for us internally. Having the entire system managed through Wireless Campus Manager allows our tech support to continue to focus on the day-to-day district needs and to support teachers in the classroom. Without this resource it would not be possible to successfully provide the support needed for an additional 1,000 laptops.
CEO and Founder
Everyone is assuming that within the next five years, 100 percent of students will have some sort of digital textbook. What are the challenges there? How are we going to get these one-to-one initiatives out to our schools? What are some of the pain points? One is a lack of IT resources. We have been to some schools recently where they are starting to embrace student internships to help bridge their IT divide. Another is a lack of funds. Where is the money going to come from—grants, E-Rate? And with E-Rate comes challenges, making sure that you will continue to get that funding, that you are prepared to receive that funding, and that your mobile learning strategy is the right one for the way that you are going after these funds. Also, limited knowledge. A lot of these programs are new to these schools. You don’t know what you don’t know. And, of course, one is security concerns. You don’t want to deploy something in your district and then have it end up in the newspaper because you didn’t think the security through. So where do you start? That’s where our Wireless Campus Manager comes in, because it allows a district to simplify the process, to manage it, and to ensure it’s secure.
To do that, we have a life-cycle approach to managing a district’s wireless devices. When a district is preparing to deploy an m-learning strategy, it’s important to understand everything that’s going to be needed within that life cycle. It starts with a strong foundation. Our company is able to come in and work with schools to make sure they have the correct acceptable-use policies in place, the student pledge forms, the break/fix policies—everything that’s needed to ensure that this is a sustainable program. After the foundation, your sourcing and procurement system needs to be in place. Our system is able to integrate with any school’s procurement system. When you are out there purchasing end-user devices, as well as carrier devices, you need to have a strategy not only for that initial PO, for those initial couple of thousand devices, but also for more later as new students come in. You need to have security in place.
That starts with an MDM. We’ve got over 20 different partners we work with, including AirWatch. A lot of schools that we work with have figured out CIPA-compliant filtering on campus, but as we move to m-learning and being able to take these devices off campus, it’s important to keep the students secure when they are at home, as well. To be able to do that, you need to have different hosting scenarios in place, and you need to educate the students to be good digital citizens. Staging and logistics is also a big part of the process. As schools say, “Hey, I’m going to go out here and purchase 2,000, 10,000, 100,000 devices,” you need to know that you will be able to stage these devices and deploy them in a timely manner. Then after they are deployed, you need to manage the assets. With a system like Wireless Campus Manager, you are going to know exactly what student has what devices and what’s residing on those devices, whether it’s by district, by school or by classroom. You will need to know what licenses are on those devices, when they expire, how to track different ESN’s, and everything else related. Another feature is our device usage monitoring. A lot of times, schools are using E-Rate and grants, and they need to ensure they’re not going over budget. So we put systems in place to help monitor and manage that, and to alert IT administrators anytime students approach overages. The last piece of this life cycle is our help desk, providing a place for students, parents and faculty to call if they have any problems.
National Strategic Opportunity Manager for Education
Ultimately, everyone wants to get to this model of 24/7 learning, to tear down the traditional walls of the campus and to enable self-paced, differentiated learning for the student. At the end of the day, to get completely there, you’ve got to have connectivity off campus. Sprint’s commitment to the White House is this: We will provide 50,000 lines of free service to stay connected to the students after they leave campus. No doubt that the most important piece to all of this is the curriculum.
But ConnectED is what I would call the last mile—being able to connect the students who don’t have broadband connectivity at home to the tools that districts have rolled out. Sprint has a vested interest to ensure that the quality and experience is as robust as possible and, to that end, we are pleased to make our Sprint Spark network available for ConnectEd. Offering unparalleled speed, Spark enables the most robust off-campus connection available to students today.
To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please go to http://districtadministration.com/ws061114.