Looking at BYOD? The Questions Every School Must Ask

Sometimes, the hardest thing in exploring new IT solutions is knowing what questions to ask. As you probably instruct your students, there are no wrong questions. The same applies in IT. Fortunately, in both education and technology, curiosity helps us to find new ways of working and better ways to solve even the most familiar challenges.

Our education specialists report that bring your own device (BYOD) is currently among the most asked about topics for schools, perhaps because there is such variation in what a BYOD solution may look like. BYOD – or parent-owned devices – is where every student has their own device, such as a laptop or tablet, purchased by their parents. In some cases it is left to parents to research and buy a device, in some the school may sell identical devices to each student. Managed BYOD programs, such as that offered by Stott Hoare, may take the management burden from the school and offer varying levels of flexibility.

To give you a handy starting point for discussion, we’ve created a list of the key questions any school should consider when embarking on a BYOD programme.

What do we want the outcome to look like? No two school communities are identical, and BYOD schemes can be designed to fit. The first thing our education team usually does is gather information about what is important to the school, what their existing environment is like, and what they would like to achieve. For those who are uncertain, this is an excellent way of clarifying needs.

What type of school will benefit from BYOD? We’ve worked on highly successful BYOD programs with primary, secondary, college and universities in the private and state education sectors. While the design will of course vary between a primary and a college, all can gain advantage.

Is there a minimum number of students? We work with all sizes of educators, and even home-schooling organisations. Being a small school doesn’t have to mean missing out – you can still access education discounts and create a high-quality BYOD scheme.

Can remote schools be included? Yes, we can work with remote schools to make sure their unique needs are met. The right scheme can help to equalise learning opportunities for students in remote communities.

Is it secure? This is probably the most important question of all. When you’re enabling students to access the opportunities of the online world, there is a duty to take reasonable steps to keep them safe. BYOD schemes can be highly secure when they are designed and managed appropriately. Because we are IT experts and not just device sellers, we also offer help with school IT systems where needed to ensure security needs are fully met.

We partner with FamilyZone to give customers a 25% discount on their first annual subscription of online monitoring tools. No matter how well-designed, though, educating students and families is a key part of your security program, so we offer online safety information sessions. This can be an important part of your students’ technology education, giving them skills they need as they enter the online world.

Does every student have the same device? While needs vary, most schools choose a range of devices. This gives families a choice of machine, safe in the knowledge that their choice will meet all educational needs of their student.

What software will be loaded? The school can determine which software is best for their students, and it will be loaded onto machines before they are delivered to students. The schools and families don’t have to spend time installing software – all they have to do is open the box! Our BYOD programs include installing updates so that necessary patches and security features are applied promptly on every machine.

What if BYOD isn’t right for me? While BYOD suits most modern schools, you may have differing demands that mean an alternative is needed. It is always recommended to ask IT partners what other options are possible, so that you can make an informed choice.

How do I choose the right partner? We encourage schools to ask a lot of detailed questions, compare service and support options, and also to ask for customer testimonials or case studies. A good partner will always be open to discussing alternatives and providing detailed, costed comparisons. Seek experience with education, qualifications, and make sure a solution will be designed to fit your school’s needs. Then, call Stott Hoare.

Our education specialists encounter many and varied enquiries, from familiar questions to more unusual requests. We’re always happy to help you to find answers and define the solution that best meets your needs. Time to look at a better device option? Call our friendly education experts today.

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