An impressive 85 percent of educational institutions allow students, teachers and faculty to use personal devices on school networks. This is a huge opportunity for professors and students to engage in new learning styles — and for hackers and criminals to gain access to networks and potential sensitive data.
Mobile computing has created a new demand for access and bandwidth that colleges are struggling to meet. Almost no organizations can afford to supply devices quickly enough for voracious mobile consumers. As a result, students and professors have resorted to bringing their own devices on campus. When managed properly, BYOD can solve a number of problems, but when BYOD goes wrong, universities can find themselves in real trouble.
Bradford Networks recently released a survey of K–12 and higher education IT and network professionals, focusing on BYOD technologies and policies. The results indicate that there is great opportunity for students and professors as well as enormous risk:
There is strong evidence that BYOD is a dominant model in educational settings at all levels. Putting technology in students’ hands is transforming the educational experience, not only in colleges and universities, but in K-12 schools as well. BYOD is fueling the transition as educators move from traditional lecture-based instruction to new models of learning, teaching and collaboration. Rather than resist this revolution in education, results suggest that more and more institutions are embracing it.
There is considerable uncertainty about how to make BYOD work. The survey revealed some questionable security practices as well as possible misconceptions about the right way to handle security when students are bringing their personal devices to school. Not all institutions were aware of the importance of visibility into both users and devices accessing the network, or the access control measures needed when thousands of varied users and devices are trying to get on the network. These are areas that schools and universities will have to address if their BYOD initiative is be a success.
The survey results reveal some telling statistics about the BYOD landscape in higher education today. Below are a few key takeaways.
Of the educational institutions surveyed:95% allow personal laptops to be used on school networks.