Apr 29 2016

How Managed Tablet Services Improve Mobile App Selection and Deployment

Schools can overcome application-deployment challenges by turning to experienced mobility architects for help.

Apps are the heart of a K–12 mobility program, and the market for them is exploding. Mobile app best practices start with careful selection of the education and productivity apps suitable for the student population and curriculum. But with the mountains of mobile apps available for education today, this alone can be a major effort.

By purchasing a managed tablet subscription, IT staff has access to mobility architects who can help to select and deploy applications. These can include both integrated education suites and standalone apps. A subscription provider can manage the lifecycle of each app within a school’s portfolio, from selection to distribution, deployment, management and retirement.

Further, the provider can enforce security policies using enterprise mobility management (EMM) and other tools and practices. Mapping a strategy for securing mobile apps and data can be a complicated process, including the decision of where apps should reside. Many school districts opt to set up a private app store, while others permit users to download apps from a commercial store such as the Apple App Store. Google hopes to make many of these security issues moot for K–12 through its Play for Education store. A district can whitelist apps, allowing users to download only those that are approved, or it can blacklist prohibited apps. A 2013 Gartner study predicted that 25 percent of organizations will have private app stores in place by 2017.

With a managed service provider’s guidance, IT teams can develop an application strategy that balances demand for access with security. EMM tools allow IT administrators to enforce policies by tracking what users are downloading to their devices and how they’re using them.

Mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM) are critical to mobile deployment in K–12 education. The spectrum of mobility management challenges they address takes on added importance when the user population involves children. First, students may be more prone to losing tablets. And second, there can be serious repercussions if they’re able to view inappropriate content due to a lack of access controls.

The need to for heightened vigilance is one of the reasons that Roseville City School District in California uses AirWatch cloud-based MDM/MAM software to manage the tablets and applications used by its K–8 students, administrators and teachers. Not only can the IT staff distribute multiple applications simultaneously, but they also can track every tablet in the fleet, wipe data from lost or stolen devices and monitor the applications running on them.

Learn more about K–12 tablet bundles by downloading the white paper, "Graduating to a Managed Tablet Subscription."