Many schools considering a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program struggle with the question of how to control devices, including ensuring that every machine has an up-to-date anti-malware program and software in support of curriculum needs. Although these are well-grounded concerns, approaching the solutions can be inconvenient, lead to large expenses, and ultimately limit the devices that students are able to bring.
Early in the Academy’s BYOD program, we determined that we wanted to be as flexible as possible, following the “AAAA” idea: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime, Any Computer. In order to truly achieve this goal, we implemented a system in which student machines work as-is, without school-provided tech support or any additional software. With the addition of tablet devices for the 2013-14 academic year, we have truly achieved this goal.
So how does Harrisburg Academy manage the BYOD program without extra controls that other schools may feel they need to manage student machines?
Last year, we began driving all computer work and programs that students utilize to the Internet. With nearly everything a student may access on the web, there is little need to directly access internal resources. For those few internal resources students do access, Harrisburg Academy has a private cloud that can be accessed from anywhere through a web interface. These resources include NetClassroom, Moodle, and printing. As the need for student access to internal resources decreased, we built a network specifically for students, which allows them to connect to a filtered, high-speed Internet connection via their device’s Wi-Fi.
Finally, we trust our students. Students are expected to maintain their machines properly and ensure that they are working and fully charged every day. With four successful years of the BYOD program, we can confirm that this method works. Students take responsibility for their machines and rarely have we had student-computer issues.
The savings, both in time and dollars, realized with our student BYOD computing environment has enabled us to focus our efforts on common resources, like network speed and availability, improved printing environments, and enhancements to common web-based interfaces and services.