Aug 20 2014

Schools Eye Mobile Content Management

Districts use wireless network tools to secure mobile content, with an eye on more robust solutions for the future.

Financially challenged school districts do the best they can with mobile device management, often using core wireless networking system tools to manage tablets and smartphones.

That’s the tactic Washington County Public Schools in Hagerstown, Md., takes. Jim Corns, chief operations officer for instructional technology for the district, relies on the MDM tools within the Cisco Meraki network to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices and reset passwords.

The district uses Google Drive for secure content management. “A lot of learning takes place outside the school, so we want to set it up so students and teachers can securely exchange documents and schoolwork remotely,” Corns says.

Chris Silva, research director for mobile and client computing for Gartner, says districts will increasingly integrate content management into their MDM environments.

“Only 20 to 30 percent of the organizations go beyond basic MDM, but that will change as the people closest to the day-to-day work demand that secure document management is integrated into workflows so they can run the apps on mobile devices,” he says.

A Gradual Path to Mobility

Jesse Meddaugh, technology specialist at Colby School District in Wisconsin, also makes do with Cisco Meraki tools to perform inventory, wipe remote devices and reset passwords. “We’re a small district with about 1,000 students, and we have depended on donations from parents and state and federal grants for our technology projects,” he says.


The percentage of organizations that push apps to their employees who are using customized applications

SOURCE: Fiberlink, “MaaS360 Mobile Metrics,” May 2014

Meddaugh says the tools work fine for now because he’s only managing 66 tablets for school board members, teachers and some administrators. Colby School District plans to furnish the elementary school with one tablet per grade level each year, and annually add Google Chromebooks per grade level in the middle school. Eventually, high school students will receive notebooks through a one-to-one- program as part of the district’s technology plan.

“Once we expand our usage of mobile devices, we’ll have to move to a full MDM system with secure content management,” Meddaugh says. He is considering JAMF Software’s Casper Suite as the frontrunner for the district’s MDM solution.

Content Management Capabilities

Chris Silva, research director for mobile and client computing at Gartner, describes three roles of secure content management in an enterprise mobile management (EMM) package:

  • Secure Storage: A client application enables users to store content securely on a mobile device. The EMM can enforce authentication, file sharing and restrict copy-and-paste functions.

  • Content Push: Along with receiving content via email, EMMs can push content and oversee it as needed; for example, by controlling document versions, alerting users to new files and flagging a content expiration date.

  • Content Access: A back-end repository serves up content to mobile devices. Capabilities include support for specific repositories such as SharePoint or Documentum, restricting downloads while roaming and audit logging to track who accesses or downloads files.

Image by Ellagrin/ThinkStock

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