Sometimes the only way to make progress is to leave something behind.
When it comes to Hacienda La Puente Unified School District's nascent bring-your-own-device program and the Access_Net network that was created to support it, Thomas Tan is certain of one thing: He doesn't know what to expect.
"We just opened Access_Net on May 1," explains Tan, director of network and computer services for the 34-school district, which serves more than 22,000 pre-K–12 students in California's San Gabriel Valley. "The network is open to anyone who wants to bring his or her own device to campus or use one of the district-owned mobile devices we've been piloting."
HLPUSD began testing the BYOD waters in September 2011, when the IT team deployed 60 tablets for administrators to use in teacher evaluations. Soon thereafter, a small group of teachers at three schools began piloting tablets in their classrooms.
"Buying the devices is the easy part," Tan continues. "Building the capacity to support that is an ongoing effort."
Indeed, it didn't take long before HLPUSD's 30-person IT department realized that it needed a better mobile device management strategy. "At the time, we had to touch every single device," Tan explains. "Our department supports all technology districtwide, and it became apparent really quickly that having to physically track down every device was a nonstarter for us."
During a California Educational Technology Professionals Association meeting in January 2012, Tan had an opportunity to see a demonstration of Absolute Manage MDM from Absolute Software. Additional research and visits to the nearby Corona–Norco Unified School District and Rosemead School District, which also use Absolute Manage MDM, confirmed for Tan and his colleagues that the solution was the right choice for their district too.
4 The number of mobile device platforms that Hacienda La Puente Unified School District IT leaders are confident they can support on the existing Access_Net network
"Absolute had a good reputation, and the fact that other districts were using it gave it credibility," Tan says. The software's ease of use and feature set also made it appealing — particularly the over-the-air management capabilities, which Tan calls "the killer app."
HLPUSD teachers and students had less than a month to experiment with Access_Net before the 2012–2013 school year came to an end, so the real test of the network's performance — and the number of devices that will access it — will come when school resumes on Aug. 7.
"We don't know yet if we're going to get five or 500 devices on this network," Tan says. "But what gets watched gets done. MDM automates support that you'd otherwise have to do by hand."
— Liz B. Davis, Director of Academic Technology, Belmont (Mass.) Hill School; read her blog, one of EdTech's top 50 must-read K–12 IT blogs in 2012, at edtechpower.blogspot.com, and follow her on Twitter at @lizbdavis
of K–12 IT administrators say that securing mobile devices that access the school network is their top concern.
of district IT departments spend an average of 25 to 30 hours per week on mobile device management and support; 15% spend more than 30 hours per week on such tasks.
of organizations will have to support two or more mobile operating systems.
SOURCE: Gartner (October 2012)