Five Obstacles to Security in a Bring Your Own Device School

For years, schools have been fighting to keep students from bringing their own laptops, phones and tablets to school – mainly because of security and access control. How can you stop students from using these devices for activities that are not allowed on school grounds, especially when connected to a school network?

Technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, however, making it easier and more possible than ever for BYOD security to match and exceed the concerns that many educators and administrators have and to prevent problems from developing or worsening. Here are five such obstacles and how many K-12 environments are tackling them.

Access Policies – How do you keep students from accessing the Internet through wireless networks and downloading or using things they shouldn’t? Most schools have implemented access controls and use firewalls and access points in the building that limit what students or faculty can do by their credentials.

Online Threats – Online threats or breaches of security are a concern for any IT department, especially in a school where students now have access to those systems. Most modern BYOD security networks protect against this both passively and actively.

Personal Data – Powerful firewalls, strict access controls and maintenance of the systems used for BYOD schools is needed to ensure grades, salary info, test scores and test drafts are all protected against outside access.

Infrastructure – The infrastructure of a BYOD school needs to be protected in all of its forms – physical, virtual and cloud. Especially if faculty and students will have access to files from home, which would require login from an outside network, the infrastructure needs to be robust enough to keep data where it is and not allow unauthorized access.

Cost of Management – Beyond BYOD security, many administrators worry about the cost of managing everything. Fortunately, this is often not an issue. While setup can be costly, the overall decrease in cost from not needing to maintain or replace as many desktop or laptop computers in the school district often results in a positive net gain. Policies are often unified across multiple districts or schools as well to make it easier to train new faculty and maintain the systems with a small IT staff.

All of these things are very real concerns for educators, administrators and IT staff members in school districts around the country considering whether to implement a BYOD policy. However, with the right vendor and a clear idea of how to enforce the right policies, BYOD security can be maintained very effectively.

The key is to have a plan in place, choose a vendor with the experience and technology needed to maintain your access policies,and have a clear plan in place for when any of these policies are breached or when a problem develops with the infrastructure. In most cases the result has been very positive, with very low incident rates (below 1% in most schools) and across the board rave reviews from teachers and administrators.

Managing BYOD Security in a K-12 Classroom Environment

For years, students have been bringing their own devices into classrooms and schools. Those schools often maintained strict policies regarding their use, requiring that they remain off during school hours, but as the number of devices has increased and their relative use in the classroom has as well, many K-12 districts are running BYOD pilot programs. If your district is preparing to run such a program or already is, here are some things you will need to consider in terms of BYOD security.

First, What Risks Exist?

The reason BYOD adoption has been relatively slow nationwide is not because it doesn’t work, but because so many educators and administrators have preconceptions about whether it will work. Five years ago, most education professionals would cite the near impossibility of managing devices that the school does not own, but as it turns out, actual issues are minimal.

Most schools see incident rates as low as 0.5% to 1% and even then, the issues being dealt with are relatively small. Students generally follow the rules, whether a network administrator has control of their device or they simply need to follow strict guidelines outlined before being allowed to bring the device in.

Preemptive Action to Avoid Problems

Of course, part of the reason for such a low incident rate is the fact that most school districts have strict programs in place before allowing any devices into the classroom. Most pilot programs enable BYOD in multiple classrooms and even in multiple schools within a district so that teachers can share notes, discuss the evolution of the process and ensure they are ready for situations they might not have considered themselves.

Additional rules being implemented by many school districts include:

Parent Permission – Parents must sign a permission slip for each class in which a student will use their own device and must agree to accept all messages sent to that device.

Limited Use – Many districts set up proper use zones in the school, not allowing use in places like locker rooms, nurse’s offices or bathrooms and limiting use in other places such as auditoriums or non-approved classes.

Recording – Students are often limited or even barred from recording anything with video or audio with their devices for both safety and security reasons.

Access Control – All devices must access the Internet only through a district owned and operated wireless network.

The latter is perhaps most important, ensuring that student access can still be controlled to some degree by firewalls and access control points in the school. Tracking is limited but the actual access controls are in the hands of educators and administrators.

Making BYOD Work in Your School

BYOD security is the biggest concern for most districts considering or preparing to implement a ‘bring your own device’ program. If yours is in a similar situation, consider discussing your concerns with a vendor that has already worked with dozens of other school districts, as well as those school districts. You will find that most of the issues you want addressed can be resolved or may not even be as big of issues as you originally worried about.

Telling the story of LaunchPad

It’s that eRate time of year again.

Today we sent out a note to eRate Form 170 filers reminding them that ClassLink LaunchPad is 85% eligible under Priority 1. We included a great video that tells the story of what are the benefits of LaunchPad from the perspective of a high school principal, a school district technology director and a classroom teacher and department head.

Today’s instructional technology landscape is becoming an ‘anything goes’ world and I believe the future is even more device diversity. LaunchPad helps simplify this modern quilt of technology by delivering a personalized ‘cloud desktop’ to each user on any device. With LaunchPad a user can access

  • web based or windows based software with automatic login
  • access etextbooks
  • access files that are stored at school
  • access files that are stored in the cloud, google docs, microsoft sky drive, or

Often times I’m still asked, ‘Berj, do you have any video’s that explain LaunchPad?’

Yes we do.

Here’s a few short animations that may help explain the benefits. Of course, if you would like a personal tour, you can always call us as well.

What is LaunchPad?

What is LaunchPad Cloud Drive?

ClassLink LaunchPad: Comparison to Old-School Desktop Virtualization

ClassLink LaunchPad and Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD)


ClassLink Releases Revolutionary New Version of LaunchPad for iOS 6

LaunchPad Works Better Than Ever on iOS Devices

LaunchPad Works Better Than Ever on iOS Devices

A new release of iOS, the operating system used by Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, usually means a host of new possibilities for app developers. When iOS 6 was released earlier this year, ClassLink took the opportunity to completely transform how students and teachers can use their flagship LaunchPad product on their Apple devices. Much of the shift is thanks to major enhancements in LaunchPad’s user interface. Let’s go through some of the major advances and discuss just how LaunchPad can revolutionize your BYOD scheme.

Intuitive User Interface

The UI on LaunchPad for iOS has been redesigned from the ground up, making it look and behave much like iOS itself. LaunchPad can be seamlessly switched between landscape and portrait mode. Applications are displayed with distinctive, square icons that can be organized into folders – just as in the native iOS. Apps and folders can also be organized into multiple pages. This makes categorization of apps easy! Speaking of easy, finding your files on your cloud drive is as simple as can be thanks to the updated Cloud Drive display. Everything is listed alphabetically. File type, size, and edited date appear right on the screen as well.

Improved File Handling

Users of LaunchPad for iOS can now preview any file in their cloud drive, including a full screen view of any documents. Microsoft Office documents can now be edited using the native Cloud editor. As cloud drives grow, the ability to see file contents at a glance becomes more important. Files and documents can also be organized into new folders on both cloud and mapped drives. Users can also upload videos, which is important considering that video production is a major function of all iOS devices now. Finally, files can also be sent to both the Google and Windows Live suite of online services for sharing and other capabilities. There are also progress indicators for such uploads and downloads.

Expanded Application Use Options

All of the apps from the user’s virtual desktop on LaunchPad are now accessible via the iOS app, including Windows applications that do not run on iOS natively. This can amount to a huge cost savings for schools that no longer have to re-buy apps for their iOS devices even though they already own licenses for the Windows versions. You can now switch between apps instantly during use, with LaunchPad keeping track of what apps and documents you most recently accessed. You can also organize your apps in folders to save time and hassle. Finally, web-based apps can now use LaunchPad’s stress-saving single sign-on (SSO) feature.

The Next Level

Are there any other barriers to adopting BYOD for your school? What has your school or district done to address some of these barriers? Share your opinions and join the conversation in the comments section below.

If you found this article informative, please share it with your friends on your social networks.

And if you would like more information about what LaunchPad can do for your school, explore our services or schedule a demo today!

Introducing the BYOD Guidebook from ClassLink!

In the effort to make technology more accessible for our students, there are quite a few obstacles. Budgetary concerns are at the forefront. To address those concerns, visionary educational leaders have started advocating that students should be allowed to bring their own devices to school for educational use, in an effort called Bring Your Own Device or BYOD.

There seems to be two factions among administrators and faculty when considering implementing a BYOD policy:

There are the people who are not very technology savvy. They don’t quite understand how this could advance the learning goals they have for their school or classroom. And they are certainly afraid of the cans of worms that may be opened by allowing students to utilize their devices in class, reversing a rule that has been in place in most schools since the first Walkmans appeared.

Then there are the teachers and administrators who are more in tune with today’s technology. They can appreciate the benefits that such technology brings to their learning environments and have even made great efforts to bring that technology to their students’ attention. Being as knowledgeable as they are, they are also afraid of the cans of worms that may be opened by such a policy.

Download ClassLink BYOD Guidebook here.

A map for the road to BYOD

The BYOD Guidebook seeks to calm those fears by leading a frank discussion about BYOD policies and what needs to be considered before implementation. It then leads a school in the implementation process.

Here’s how it works:

The Guidebook begins with a conversation about the skills today’s modern learners need to compete in the current international economy and how a BYOD perspective can help provide and reinforce those skills. These skills are cross-curricular and include such important topics as information literacy, critical thinking, and collaboration.

It then moves to discussing five topics that any school or district should address in their BYOD vision. These topics are:

  • What enhancements can be made to your curriculum through BYOD
  • The question of equity and servicing our students of lesser means
  • Instructional policies and procedures regarding device use
  • Technological issues that may need to be addressed
  • Possible funding considerations and resources

Finally, there is a discussion of what sorts of rules and policies should be in place school-wide before implementing BYOD and a selection of useful forms for implementing those policies, as well as other resources to help your BYOD adoption become an unmitigated success.

These times are quite different from any other that the modern education system has seen, but they also have the potential to be the most fruitful if we are wise with these new resources at our disposal. BYOD is a movement well worth considering to better prepare our learners for the challenges they will face tomorrow.

The Next Level

Are there any other barriers to adopting BYOD for your school? What has your school or district done to address some of these barriers? Share your opinions and join the conversation in the comments section below.

If you found this article informative, please share it with your friends on your social networks.

And if you would like more information about what LaunchPad can do for your school, explore our services or schedule a demo today!