Jan 08 2013

Making the Most of Mobility

There’s no denying that mobile devices are changing the way students learn. Districts share how they’re handling the challenge.

A recent Verizon Foundation study on middle school students' use of mobile technology found that more than one in three students use smartphones (39 percent) and tablets (31 percent) to do their homework.

Yet only 6 percent of these students say they are allowed to use their phones in the classroom for ­educational purposes, and only 18 percent say the same about their tablets. What's especially notable about these results is that two-thirds of the students who do use tablets in class say it makes them want to learn more.

There's no denying that mobile devices are changing the way students learn. But allowing teacher-, staff- and student-owned devices to log on to the district network can't happen overnight. IT staff must not only ensure that the capacity is there to support the spike in network traffic that inevitably results, they also must figure out how to secure both the devices and the data that users rely on to do their jobs and complete their assignments.

This issue is full of examples of ­districts that are making the most of the opportunities that mobility enables.

In "A Giant Leap Forward," educators and IT leaders from California, Illinois, Iowa and Texas explain how their infrastructure upgrades have facilitated bring-your-own-device and one-to-one programs, which in turn make students more active, engaged learners. Ensuring mobile device security and access is a crucial piece of the puzzle, of course, and a work in progress. As Zack Frangidakis, network coordinator for Forest Park (Ill.) School District 91, rightly notes in "In Their Defense," it's a battle between "how to secure the devices and at the same time, make sure they're useful to people."

Choosing which device type to embrace also requires careful consideration. Early adopters of Google Chromebooks explain why the browser-based device made sense for their districts in "A Shining Alternative," and tablet adopters explain the steps they followed when researching their options in "Keeping in Touch".

Still want more mobile? Check out our review of the eInstruction Mobi View in "On the Move" and learn how to successfully transition to a digital learning environment in "Bring Your Own Action Plan." Or consider turning your professional-development program into a road show, as Scottsdale (Ariz.) Unified School District did with its eCoach ("The Road Well Traveled").

Finally, don't miss our Valentine's Day gift to educators looking for help with BYOD security. Register today for EdTech's Feb. 14 webinar, "Safe and Sound: Making BYOD Security Work for Everyone," at edtechmag.com/k12/safeBYOD.