“One swallow doesn’t make a summer”
– English proverb
While the whole of market research suggests that single example is not necessarily a guide to broader opinion, a study conducted in New Cannan Connecticut raises some interesting questions about BYOD used by students in school.
The results of the survey, reported in the New Cannan Advertiser, raise the normal concerns about BYOD: the problems of inequality among students, questions of distraction, and the rules about using a personal device are all in evidence when evaluating success of the program. As they are also concerns with a district managed program, those issues may still have an impact on even the most tightly run 1:1 scheme.
The difference, however, is that teachers and students are reporting productivity improvements based on BYOD use, as opposed to 1:1 program use. Students cite that working is easier because they know the detail of their own device. Students also save time in not having to track down technology resource to complete assignments in their free time and more frequently contacted teachers with their own email more readily available. Perhaps most interesting is that 9th Grade students demonstrated an awareness about the potential for devices to become a distraction.
The advantages, however, are not without risks. With a broad range of devices being brought to school, network security, integrity and filtering may need to be more thoroughly examined for potential mishaps. The risks of student devices bringing unintended passengers (malware) are higher, and the number of streaming apps that could tie up bandwidth are also higher. Finally, the content that people find acceptable on their own device tends to be different than on a devices which is provided.
To mitigate these risks, the proper application of web security becomes paramount. Being able to exercise an element of control, can not only help individual students with time management, but also provide protections for the network integrity as a whole.
Smoothwall Inc. has been providing customized solutions for these types of security and productivity issues since 2008. By analyzing content in real-time to make decisions about suitability, enabling read-only social media, and providing quotas to address distraction, web content doesn’t have to be banned completely but can be managed to provide positive feedback for good behavior.