Solving the BYOD Dilemma in Education – Part 2

Part 2-Defining Devices

nec-education-devicesNow that we’ve identified users, let’s take a look at available devices and best application practices. It is critical to keep in mind the differences in the way each of these devices are used.

Laptops: Laptops can be relatively easy to incorporate, as they offer standardized network and Internet access. But are the benefits greater than the risks? Laptops are easy to turn off, and easy to detect on your network. In an educational setting, teachers can clearly monitor laptop usage and if you are designing access to your student portal, creating a website accessible by all operating systems and most browsers is a relatively simple task. On the risk side, however, laptops can be easy vectors for malware and viruses. If left unchecked, these viruses can spread throughout your school infrastructure and affect anyone who is connected.

Smart phones: While voice usage of phones is decreasing sharply among youth, data and text usage is rising – and fast. Take a look here to see how dramatically data services usage is increasing among teens and young adults. Have your schools faced this issue yet? If not, it is likely they will soon, how will you prepare for this?

Smart phones can be difficult to manage on campus due to the fact that there are so many different capabilities and operating systems associated with them. Designing an app for the Apple OS and Blackberry may make most of your staff happy, but what about the percentage who favor Android? Websites, even those designed for mobile devices, have also caused more issues than they resolve for even the most common devices.

Tablets: Similar to laptops, these multi-tasking devices allow for document management, communication and collaboration. Tablets can run a wide range of applications and software, whether it is for educational purposes, general productivity or for entertainment and personal use. Although similar to laptops, tablets tend to be more secure from a virus and malware standpoint, and less useful for writing and collaboration without accessories such as a keyboard. Tablets are associated with a more narrow set of operating systems (e.g., Apple OS or Android), but with Microsoft’s foray into the arena in 2012, and various other vendors such as HP and RIM continuing to fine-tune their own offerings, this may not be the case for much longer.

So where will you go from here? You can see that there’s a lot to consider before moving ahead, and as is the case with most major projects, the more preparation and greater understanding of adapting to your user needs, the better your chances at successful implementation.

Solving the Bring your own device (BYOD) Dilemma in Education

BYOD Part 1-Defining Users

nec-education-communicationsDo you manage IT for an elementary school district, or a college or university? If so, you are undoubtedly seeing more frequent use of personal devices. There is business value in this rapidly growing practice of users wanting to gain access to your network using their device of choice – are you prepared?

When contemplating a solution set or policy switch to a personal device such as a tablet or smartphone, there are some key things to remember. Before you make a decision on what infrastructure to invest in, first look deeper at your users, the devices and available solutions, and then weigh both the benefits and obstacles you will encounter. Keep in mind that each user will require different access, use different devices, and generate their own sets of issues and benefits.

We’ve divided these users into three categories, let’s take a look:

Students: This group will be more invested in new technologies and less willing to use second-rate or “borrowed” tech in the classroom. They also have a deeper desire to be connected and collaborate electronically. The user set within this group varies greatly; for example, middle school students require different solutions and access than high school students. In a university or college setting, graduate students may have different tools available to them than their undergraduate counterparts.

Teachers: Teachers are bringing their own devices into the classroom, and not just for personal use. Tablet and smartphone use to run presentations and manage in-class participation are practically required by some schools. This trend is likely to grow, and determining your teachers’ needs and capabilities is paramount to a successful implementation.

The good news here is that teachers using their own devices can not only save your institution money, but can enhance the educational process for your students. Advanced presentation styles, greater sense of ownership, and “always-on” connectivity with students can help your teachers make a profound connection with their learning community.

Staff: Your administrative staff can be the most vocal and have the most to gain in accessing school systems through personal devices. Allowing access to student data records, attendance charts, personnel forms and other information needed on an ad hoc basis can increase productivity and efficiency tremendously, which can result in less training and more usage with reduced capital investment.

Remember to also include your maintenance and other support teams in this category. Rather than supplying cell phones and paying for usage, why not allow staff to use their own cell phones, or even connect seamlessly with Wi-Fi to your internal PBX, thus saving you mobile charges altogether.

Each of the user types in your environment are unique and should be treated as such. Identifying who will be granted access to your network, and the scope of that access before you make deployment decisions is critical in preventing unnecessary network tampering and security risks. Now that we’ve identified users, the next post will take a look at available devices and best application practices.

Stay Con-NEC-ted with the Unified Campus

unified-campus-resized-600Educational campuses increasingly face new challenges every year as they open their doors to a new group of students that expect more in the way of a technologically advanced institution.  The complexity of the infrastructure to support these demands requires scalability, reliability, and security that are beyond reproach.  NEC, a leading provider and integrator of advanced IT and communication solutions, is poised to provide just what your campus needs to deliver on the ever growing demands faced in the educational environment.

NEC’s Unified Campus Demo provides a look into the simplicity, performance, and reliability of NEC ‘s solutions that are capable of delivering the availability and quality of service that educational institutions require.

Key benefits of building a Unified Campus are:

  • Communication and collaboration among students, faculty and staff via unified communications
  • Creating a safer learning environment through effective emergency communications
  • Achieve pervasive, secure access to university information through the use of efficient, virtualized data center solutions, as well as OpenFlow-based virtual data networks
  • Leveraging campus information to create new fundraising and revenue streams with business intelligence solutions

Learn more about the NEC Unified Campus and what it can do for your organization.

NEC Collaborates with Stanford, Georgia Tech, Raytheon BBN Technologies on OpenFlow Switching

Stanford University's Gates BuildingNEC is at the forefront of research and innovation in the field of OpenFlow networks, an open switching standard developed at Stanford University that enables a new generation of network control software.  Today, attendees at the GEC9 (GENI) conference in Washington, D.C., will be able to see a demonstration of OpenFlow switching conducted in partnership between NEC, Stanford, Geogia Tech and Raytheon BBN Technologies.

NEC now has in limited release it’s ProgrammableFlow switches, which are based on the OpenFlow standard and have been deployed in over 20 research organizations worldwide.

The OpenFlow project at Stanford is part of its Clean Slate Internet Design Program.


CSU_logoUC for Enterprise Manager, NEC’s centralized Web-based management system for communication systems, provides reliable management making a business’s communication system more productive. See how Cleveland State University migrated four aging communication systems into a single, SV8500 platform to enable the network administration staff the ability to view the entire campus communications system using UCE Manager. With the expansion of end user’s needs, the implementation of the infrastructure was important to the university’s communications systems. See the video.