As students and administrators seek anytime, anywhere access to the cloud, higher ed IT teams must face their fears and get to work.
The rapid expansion of BYOD complements other trends taking place in higher education, including virtualization and technology-enhanced classrooms. The following best practices can help campuses adapt even more quickly.
Secure faculty support. According to the 21st Century Campus Report, the No. 1 challenge campuses face in their efforts to increase classroom technology use is the faculty’s lack of technology knowledge. And although 81 percent of colleges and universities are providing technology-specific professional development, faculty members said that the most used approaches (group meetings and seminars, videos and online tutorials, one-on-one meetings and peer mentoring) are missing the mark.
Professional development sessions would be more effective, they added, if the people who actually use the technology in the classroom led the training and if the sessions were targeted to the unique needs of specific academic disciplines.
Deploy virtualization. BYOD and virtualization are sister concepts in that they both enable anytime, anywhere computing via the web. Campuses can streamline their efforts to support both the BYOD revolution and the diverse computing needs of students, faculty and staff by virtualizing servers, clients, applications and storage. This allows users with outdated notebooks to perform the same tasks as those with more cutting-edge technology.
Last year, Menlo College’s IT department made virtualized clients available to students enrolled in a financial accounting class. The move gave students 24x7 access to classroom assignments and notes and allowed them to work in specialized accounting software applications, store their inprogress projects and collaborate with other students.
Virtualization also can help colleges and universities lower computing and labor costs, increase flexibility, improve security and reduce their carbon footprint.
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Rethink support policies. BYOD takes a lot of pressure off of the IT department because students, faculty and staff are responsible for fixing or replacing their malfunctioning or damaged personal devices.
However, IT personnel must help these users access the network. And with the variety of operating systems and platforms that students, faculty and staff are bringing to campus, that can be a tricky endeavor. The best way to overcome this challenge is to develop written policies that specify which platforms the IT department will support.
For more on BYOD in higher education, read the CDW•G white paper on BYOD.