Left to Their Own Smart Devices

3 lessons educators can learn from the enterprise BYOD trend.

GUEST COLUMN | by Omer Eiferman

CREDIT wikipedia iPhone5As anyone immersed in education will tell you, today’s students rely on their mobile devices more than ever before. According to a recent Pew Research Center study, 78% of teens have a cell phone, and nearly half of those teens own smartphones. College students, on average, own 7 different devices, with a laptop and smartphone topping the list.

Benchmarking the enterprise shift to the bring-your-own-device era, educators should consider that students prefer to use their own technology to stay connected. As with the enterprise space, students now own devices and tools that are better than what institutions can provide, and in addition, enjoy a much faster refresh cycle. In the education space, compared to the enterprise, smart devices are capable of more than providing students with ubiquitous connectivity — they are also an excellent vehicle, or control mechanism, for aligning education stakeholders, such as the student, institution, government and business, for the efficient delivery of educational resources and learning. Educators should consider these three lessons learned by enterprises:

  1.      Target any personal device as a vehicle to deliver education – The availability of powerful personal devices in the hands of students, and the continuous refresh cycle of the latest and greatest, supersedes the ability of educational institutions, similar to enterprise IT, to keep up with technology. Institutions need to refocus the delivery of education, moving away from controlling delivery devices and formats, to focus on consumption. The delivery of education should be standardized so it can be consumed by any personal device.  
  1.      Adopt multi-persona technology to bring the most salient resources to students – A recent blog post by Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., visualizes the future of education by demonstrating how to separate out device use scenarios that are directly related to making educational gains. Just like in the enterprise space, educators can utilize multi-persona technology on smartphones to even further align students, institutions, government and businesses. The separation in personas enables students to isolate their learning from other use scenarios and enables government, institutions, and business, to assure that subsidies and resources are delivered for the sole purpose of education, and not for personal or business gains. The latter is especially important when businesses are reluctant to deliver materials to students when it can be used for non-educational purposes, cannibalizing revenue from business channels.
  1.      Understand the benefits that smart devices bring – Beyond ubiquitous connectivity, devices are able to bring more granularity to the consumption, and delivery, of education. For example, using a device’s GPS capabilities, an institution or content provider can “geo-fence” the delivery of content to when a student is within the university walls, and disallow use outside of the institution’s boundaries. This prevents an out-of-scope use, for personal, or business gain. Devices can also allow for temporal constraints, disallowing the use of materials or connectivity on a summer break. The isolation of educational resources also benefits institutions in that it can allow the institution to have clean data, and insight, in to what students use, and how to improve and optimize resources and delivery. One may even imagine experimentation where different content is served to different students to measure the effectiveness of that content.

Educational institutions should enter the mobile age and embrace the opportunity to be more effective, efficient, and cost sensitive than ever before. The challenge, like with any disruption, is to rethink the system design and utilize new concepts, such as multi-persona, that align with this new age of mobility. Exciting times are ahead for educators.

Omer Eiferman is the CEO of Cellrox, a multi persona BYOD platform.

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