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April 17th, 2012
With mobile device management, schools can rest easier
Quickly evolving breed of software gives administrators more control over mobile learning initiatives
When you’re handing out 27,000 iPads and iPod Touches to your students and staff, having an easy way to manage all the devices—pushing out just the right applications that each person needs, and keeping track of each device’s contents and location—becomes critical.
To solve this challenge, the McAllen Independent School District has turned to a solution that is becoming increasingly common as more schools adopt mobile learning programs involving smart phones and tablets: mobile device management (MDM) software.
McAllen ISD has embarked on one of the most ambitious iPad rollouts in the nation. In February, this district at the southern tip of Texas started giving iPads and iPod Touches to its 25,000 students and 2,000 staff members.
“Our vision is, we need to give kids what they’ve been using all along, which is a mobile device,” said Pat Karr, the district’s coordinator for network services and support. He added: “We’re gonna scale [this program] extremely fast.”
McAllen ISD already has distributed 6,000 iPads and iPods to its teachers and to students in certain schools. Karr said the district hopes to get the rest of the devices into students’ hands by October.
The program is called “TLC3,” for Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus, and Community. It aims to extend learning beyond the classroom and into students’ homes, using tools that will engage a generation of students who have grown up around digital devices.
Older students are getting iPads, and students in kindergarten through second grade will get iPod Touches. The district is working with local internet providers to make sure students’ families can get discounted web service at home, which is important in a community in which two-thirds of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
To address parents’ concerns about their children’s safety, while continuing to comply with the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), McAllen is extending its internet filtering capabilities beyond the walls of its schools—and that’s where MDM technology comes into play: District officials still can manage the devices even after they leave the school building.