How to make BYOD work for your schools
Ed-tech directors share their strategies for meeting challenges such as access, security
- Prior to the first communication in a school year, the parent must grant written permission for each staff member the parent will allow to communicate via text message with his/her child. A parent must agree that he/she can be copied on all text messages;
- Be professional and appropriate;
- Be limited to matter within the scope of the employee’s professional responsibilities;
- Include the parent in all communication to the students except in the case of a health or safety emergency (change in practice times is not a health or safety emergency);
- Be limited to the hours of 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. unless addressing a matter of immediate concern;
- These rules do not apply to the extent an employee has a social or family relationship with a student;
- All consent forms must be kept at the campus for future reference.”
The BYOD policy at Pennsylvania’s Plum Borough School District addresses where students may use certain features on their personal devices:
- Students must be aware of appropriateness of communications when using district or personally owned devices. Inappropriate communication is prohibited in any public messages, private messages, and material posted online by students.
- The board expressly prohibits use of personally owned devices in locker rooms, restrooms, and nurses offices.
- Students are not permitted to use any electronic device to record audio or video media or take pictures of any student or staff member without their permission. The distribution of any unauthorized media may result in discipline including but not limited to suspension, criminal charges, and expulsion.
- Personally owned devices used in school are not permitted to connect to the internet through a 3G, 4G, or other content service providers. Personally owned devices must access the internet via the district’s content filtered wireless network.
Vendors offering solutions
In response to the growing BYOD phenomenon, ed-tech companies are promoting software-based solutions for helping districts manage BYOD challenges.
Timothy Till, sales manager at Identity Automation, said the company’s identity management (IDM) and single sign-on (SSO) solutions dovetail with BYOD initiatives.
IDM helps IT administrators control the view, access, and permissions of accounts on a school’s network. This process occurs from the minute a school employee is hired or as soon as a student is enrolled and follows the account holder as he or she changes campuses, advances through grade levels, and leaves the school system or graduates.
SSO aims to simplify the number of account credentials that users in a school district must keep track of and use daily to execute different tasks or processes.
BYOD programs pose a challenge to school IT staff because districts experience a growth in the number of accounts they must manage and in the number of resources those accounts need access to, Till said. This leads to schools operating like large enterprise businesses, with thousands of employees and accounts—but with a fraction of the funding to support these.