Our tech team’s guide to preparing your infrastructure for mobile devices
Bringing a raft of mobile devices into your school is a great opportunity for teachers and students, but if you’re not prepared, it can put a strain on your IT resources. There are dozens of factors you need to bear in mind, including: internet access, workflow, being able to secure devices and, most importantly, ensuring student safety.
Luckily, we can help you every step of the way, testing out your existing infrastructure, conducting WiFi surveys to ensure you have ample coverage and even setting up trials of mobile device management (MDM) solutions. Here are a few of our favourite tools for keeping your mobile devices online and under control without bringing your network to a standstill, or giving students access to files that they’re not supposed to see.
Get easy internet access and WiFi
If you’re taking on an iPad or MacBook Air deployment, you might need to think about updating your school’s old WiFi system in order to let a class full of pupils all access the internet and stream content without the connection grinding to a halt. We can come and check if your WiFi’s up to the job by carrying out a WiFi survey to make sure you’re getting maximum coverage as well as capacity, then recommend steps to take.
One solution we’re seeing great results from is Aerohive, a managed WiFi solution whereby the connection is managed by individual access points in the classroom rather than a central controller. These clever white boxes cut out data bottlenecks and the single point of failure you get in a traditional WiFi setup, so you get continuous connectivity. It’s scalable, so there’s no limit on the number of users you can support, it’s easily manageable (you can view and control the access points from anywhere using an online console) and it’s not a big investment either, so all in all a great option for primary schools.
TOP TIP: Control who can connect what to which network and when by creating individual Aerohive PSK passwords (Private Pre-Share Key – a more secure form of login, basically) with time restrictions and specific permissions.
Manage devices and ensure secure web access
If you want to add mobile device management (MDM) to the mix, and make sure your pupils are safe on the web at the same time, try Lightspeed – a great all-in-one solution comprising MDM tools, online workspaces and a web filter. Lightspeed is cloud-based, so you can manage devices from anywhere, easily set restrictions on web access, and add or remove profiles to make sure anyone who’s not enrolled can’t access content on your network. It’ll even sync with your Apple Volume Purchase Programme account, so you can push out apps to your iPad deployment without having to do it one device at a time plus, use Lightspeed’s Web Filter tool to create ‘web zones’ where students can only access content approved for their age group. Works when you take iPad home too!
TOP TIP: My Big Campus, a Facebook-like online workspace, allows teacher to set up groups for different subjects or projects, then invite pupils to share work and resources with one another in an informal, student-friendly environment that’s designed to encourage collaboration and promote self-learning.
Make accessing and sharing files easier
To make it easier for pupils to be able to access files saved on the school network, search, transfer and work on documents quickly from anywhere, a file management solution from GroupLogic is probably what you’re after. This will let you make sure everyone can quickly have access to the right resource, without searching for files cutting into your teaching time.
mobilEcho gives you simple, secure and managed access to your existing network folders and file servers from your iOS devices, meaning you can use all your existing content easily. Because it integrates with your Active Directory, it’s also simple to set up secure logins and users with the same access permissions. activEcho, on the other hand, works a bit like Dropbox, the online file sharing service. It lets pupils and staff share documents on iPad from a centrally stored location in the cloud without having to use a third-party app (which you can’t guarantee is secure).
TOP TIP: Use mobilEcho to control which users can see and work with which files. For example, make it so that students can only find resources relevant to their classes, or teachers can see all their files, but not save certain types of document to their iPad for data protection reasons.
Get your Macs and PCs working together
If you’re using both Macs and PCs, you’ll need some way of giving everyone the same access to the same resources, regardless of what platform they’re on. There are ways of doing this, either by adding Windows to your Macs, managing everything with Windows servers, or managing macs and mobile devices together. Another GroupLogic brainwave, ExtremeZ-IP lets you use Active Directory to makes sure that Mac and PC users get the same user experience and can use the same files, printers, and devices as those on PCs.
TOP TIP: Don’t waste lesson time clicking through greyed-out files or watching progress bars. ExtremeZ-IP gives everyone access to the same resources, all without your IT team having to learn a whole new operating system.
How we can help…
With 20 years’ experience working with over 1000 schools across the UK, we can help with every aspect of future-proofing your infrastructure, from pre-sales consultancy to post-sale support. Accredited by GroupLogic, Apple, HP, Aerohive and more, our consultants and engineers have extensive installation experience, and our in-house tech team can provide a dedicated point of contact who knows your exact situation and needs. We can even arrange free trial runs with hardware and software so you get chance to see how much you can benefit before you buy.
Call us on 03332 409 333 or email learning@Jigsaw24.com to find out more.