Mobile Device Management

Teachers reduce classroom chaos and enhance student learning experiences.

GUEST COLUMN | By Dave Saltmarsh

CREDIT JAMF SoftwareIt’s no secret that the rapid evolution of technology has paved the way for extraordinary growth in education, from advancing the way teachers do their jobs to the way students learn. With a larger presence of digital devices in the classroom today than ever before, it is crucial that teachers have access to technology solutions that can save them time and reduce stress, while ensuring a positive learning environment for students.

Mobile device management tools put tasks that were previously handled by IT directly in the hands of teachers. 

Mobile device management tools put tasks that were previously handled by IT directly in the hands of teachers. Without these tools, teachers have to alert the IT department every time an issue – such as a student being locked out of their mobile device due to a forgotten passcode – arises. The elimination of the IT middleman significantly diminishes chaos in the classroom and allows teachers to spend less time waiting for IT to come save the day and more time on enriching students’ learning experiences by doing the actual task they have set out to do: teach.

Today, most mobile device management companies are focused on providing classroom management capabilities to the small percentage of early-adopter teachers who are implementing mobile device use in the classroom. In order for more teachers to embrace technology the way these early adopters have, companies need to make a deliberate shift to paying more attention to the larger percentage of non-tech savvy slow adopters. To better understand the needs of both technology veteran and novice educators, we first need to be aware of their three greatest challenges:

1. Chaos in the classroom

Today’s teachers will tell you that having a chaotic classroom environment is the single biggest challenge they face when trying to control student mobile devices in the classroom. Without the proper tools at their disposal allowing them to seamlessly manage transitions from one task to the next, attempting to seize the attention of students and provide brief instructions can take up a significant amount of time. For non-tech savvy teachers, who are already struggling with the everyday challenge of managing a classroom, transition time can become even more of a headache when one new “thing” is thrown in the mix.

With today’s mobile device management tools, teachers can easily command the attention of their classroom and control the apps that students are able to access on their devices, ensuring that they are actively engaged with the appropriate assignment. By giving teachers the power to unlock, restrict or enable devices in the classroom without involving IT, mobile device management solutions save time and reduce stress during transition periods. Technology should be a time saver, not a time sucker.

2. Providing mass customization and personalization of learning

The traditional technology model involves a structured annual schedule that mandates when mobile devices in the classroom are collected and new software is added. It is not easily customizable for each student’s unique needs in an age when teachers are being asked to mass customize and personalize student learning. With mobile device management tools, teachers can easily update and install apps and content to cater to each student’s individual learning needs. For example, if a student is passionate about a certain subject and shows a strong desire to learn more beyond what was discussed in the classroom, a teacher can provide them with access to a book on that subject on their mobile device. A student with a learning disability such as dyslexia can be granted quicker, easier access to visual learning software apps. Previously, schools had to purchase a separate software license for each student and assign it to each individual device. Now, teachers are able to not only customize devices up front, but also at a moment’s notice. Educators can decide when it is the right time to install and update apps, rather than relying on some old school IT schedule – creating a more meaningful experience for both the teacher and student.

3. Providing Secure Testing Scenarios

Juggling the desire to provide each student with customized content with the need for equity in the classroom can be a tricky balancing act. Educators often have doubts about changing their instructional practice from paper to digital because they want to preserve a secure, fair environment. Mobile device management tools enable teachers to create a comfortable and consistent environment that ensures fair testing. By locking student devices into a secure testing app, mobile device management tools ensure consistency in learning environments by providing simplified support for both daily quizzes and high-stakes, large scale exams.

Educators in today’s digital classroom need tools that allow them to do all the same things they did before the advent of the digital classroom, in a way that doesn’t require them to spend extra time learning how to use the technology. The job of technology in education is to create the conditions for success, for both the teacher and student. When mobile device management companies can offer solutions that save teachers time, reduce stress and provide students with unique, but fair learning experiences, everybody wins.

Dave Saltmarsh is a former classroom teacher and IT & library director, and current educational evangelist for JAMF Software, a leading Apple device management company based in Minneapolis.

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