The modern K–12 technology device landscape is complex. For your IT team, managing the flow between devices is a continual challenge: Fewer people are managing more (and more diverse) devices. New curriculum initiatives, low-price hardware “refreshes,” and evolving educational technologies mean that a single operating system (OS) often doesn’t work.
Teachers face similar technology and student-management challenges in the classroom. As 1:1 programs have become the norm, laptops, tablets, and two-in-ones have become fixtures in modern learning spaces. While these tools are vital for empowering student learning, they often become distractions when teachers are forced to act as IT technicians.
Effective use of technology demands a foundation of pedagogy to help teachers deliver improved learning outcomes for students based on innovative teaching techniques—it also requires support from IT and administration to ensure your robust digital initiative is a success.
Multiplatform endpoint management software empowers IT and teachers alike. Adoption of an effective solution, including classroom management software, can increase professional efficacy while ensuring devices work properly to help kids learn.
For IT department members, traditional device deployment can be a complex and time-consuming manual task. Gathering each physical device and manually deploying software and data can be monotonous and demanding, especially in large school districts. A strong management solution can automatically deploy the appropriate OS and software with patches and updates that have fewer demands on IT resources, saving valuable time and avoiding missteps due to the repetitious nature of the manual task.
IT Asset Management and Security
Student devices are a significant investment in any school district’s budget. Multiplatform management tools allow IT staff to find, track, manage, and report on devices. These tools allow staff to locate missing or stolen devices, identify unmanaged devices connected to school networks, and manage licenses and installations to optimize budgeted licensing.
Along with the physical security of school-provided devices, multiplatform management provides powerful digital security. Device management means IT staff can deploy “patches” when necessary, requiring secure user passcodes and restricting access to software and web content as needed.
Just-in-Time Support and Self-Service
Let’s face it, technical problems can derail a day of learning and impose a cumulative effect on pedagogical plans for weeks. With multiplatform management, IT staff can troubleshoot and control devices remotely, and deploy the appropriate solution. IT administrators can help via screen-sharing capabilities instead of having to coordinate schedules for an in-person meeting.
An effective multiplatform solution will offer self-service options for students and teachers as well. On-demand content, software, apps, and more can be added to the self-service kiosk and downloaded by approved users based on class enrollment and other user profiles. This can reduce demands on network bandwidth and empower students to take a self-driven approach to additional learning opportunities.
SIS and Other Integrations
With many device and classroom management tools, it is important to ensure that systems are integrated and share accurate data. Districts should implement a multiplatform management tool that integrates with their Student Information System (SIS) for a more seamless experience for students, teachers, and administration. Linking SIS profiles to user profiles in 1:1 programs can provide a more personalized experience for students. If a district opts for a shared device program, the same SIS data can be integrated with the user profiles required for logging in to the public device.
Multiplatform solutions that integrate with Apple Classroom and other school management systems give a more streamlined experience for IT staff and educators. Other key functionalities necessary for successful digital initiatives in the classroom include:
- Classroom screen controls: Teachers must be able to take control of lessons by directing students’ attention. Temporarily blacking out or locking out device screens to limit distractions during instruction is an essential function for classroom management. Restricting device use to a single app or screen can also ensure students are focusing on the required task in class.
- Student polling and messaging: Classroom management tools provide opportunities for informal communication. Class-wide polls can serve as a gauge of student understanding, providing a way for educators to run an informal pop quiz or check on classroom engagement. Individual and group messaging options can also enable teachers to interact with specific students discreetly without interrupting other students’ concentration.
- Content delivery and planning: Centralized course content and easily understandable formatting allow teachers to present content to students in a week-by-week planner view. This centralized space means fewer notifications of changes and more focus on the class itself, as a teacher-affected change will be shared with the class.
As the EdTech landscape continues to shift with newly developing technologies, demands on IT staff and educators will continue to grow. New device platforms that have not yet been developed will require new management techniques.
Putting appropriate processes and tools in place now will help you and your school district handle these coming developments down the line. Multiplatform endpoint management and classroom management tools are essential for navigating the technological future and will help IT staff and educators better empower their students in the long run.
Tim Williams is vice president of global marketing and product strategy at FileWave, an IT solutions firm based in Indianapolis.