Three ways IT can avoid creating digital distractions in education

Gone are the blackboards, piles of textbooks, and oversized desktop computers in the corner of the room. Increasingly, pupils of all ages are using tablets, video screens, and virtual whiteboards to learn.

The Internet has become an indispensable platform for education. Continually evolving academic programmes and tools are putting teachers in a better position than ever before to adapt to the different needs of their students. Technological development will continue to create new educational opportunities for students and teachers alike. To avoid these developments from turning into distractions, clearer IT strategies will become ever-more central to academic success.

Central management of devices

The proliferation of computing devices, mobile technology and the rise of BYOD are making successful digital-experience management impossible for most. Our recent research found that while 75 per cent of schools encourage BYOD, only 42 per cent of IT managers find they have the controls in place to manage this influx of devices. This demonstrates that most current school networks are not fully prepared to give students the flexibility and security they need to use their own devices effectively. This needs to change. And it is why alternative solutions such as cloud-based WiFi are becoming more popular. Simplified management for the IT department means it can unlock new engagement possibilities in the classroom that are driven by mobility.

Flexibility and security go hand in hand

We also found that 62 per cent of IT managers experience pain when trying to balance this flexibility and security. It is essential that this changes as the two are key in making schools tick and improving the learning and teaching experience.

Schools want to provide students with flexible learning through WiFi and mobile technology as this improves teaching. For instance, it enables teachers to enrol students and their devices within the assigned lesson plan and allows screen sharing, pushing resources, monitoring student activity and more.

Often, security is neglected to cater for this but this should not be the case. With newer authentication methods such as PPSK (Private Pre-Shared Key) offering secure user and device connectivity without the need for certificates, it is now becoming easier for IT departments to offer a simple yet secure environment for both school and personal devices.

Use the network and learn from it

Improving network intelligence is also a great way to improve security while keeping flexibility high. It’s clear that connectivity alone is not good enough for IT managers as they need to have full visibility of what devices are being used for. This not only helps to mitigate security and duty of care concerns but also reduces improper use of bandwidth, and ensures the WiFi provision is focused on supporting and prioritising those activities that directly support learning.

Paul Hennin, Senior Director, International Marketing at Aerohive Networks