Mobile Device Management for the Education Industry: Addressing the Challenges Introduced by Hybrid Learning

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Hybrid Learning: The New Reality

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered learning modes and these seismic changes will be here with us for the foreseeable future. Schools, universities, and other educational institutions adopted online learning and now, hybrid learning is a growing trend. The effectiveness of online learning is obviously determined by access to devices and learning facilities; it has foregrounded regional disparities and the existing digital divide globally. Yet in spite of these issues, a recent report by the World Bank states that hybrid learning is a permanent fixture of our world. 

Even before the onset of the pandemic, digital pedagogy was on the rise – particularly in universities, where many students access their learning material online. University students either use the university’s devices or their own devices using the university’s internet connection. With the onset of hybrid learning, increasing numbers of educational institutions will deploy devices that will require secure managing and monitoring at scale for successful online learning.

How, then, can educational institutions implement online learning systems that address pressing challenges such as device access and internet connectivity to deliver learning material that aligns with educational goals? By adopting a mobile device management (MDM) strategy.

Mobile Device Management and Hybrid Learning

The students of today are digital natives and they require immersive learning environments. A well-thought out MDM strategy will thus ensure that students and teachers are able to make the best use of digital technologies whilst protecting sensitive information and devices.

Primarily, MDM enables IT teams in educational institutions to manage a range of devices that operate on varying operating systems through one centralized platform. Centralized device management provides many benefits. These include:

  • Manage an unlimited number of devices and scale with minimal interruption to operations to add more devices over time as needed.
  • Customized dashboards featuring data on device usage, technical faults/malpractices, reports, and analytics. This is particularly useful when IT administrators want to ensure that staff and students are using the devices for the intended purposes only, in accordance with the educational institution’s IT policies.
  • Remote monitoring of devices to understand how university devices are used and when replacements are needed. Geolocation features to track devices in case of loss, theft or misplacement. 
  • MDM products provide identity and access management (IAM) features. IT teams can implement single sign on (SSO) and authentication policies to onboard users easily and devices. Moreover, strong identity management capabilities are the cornerstone of securing personal information and sensitive data.
  • Purchase required apps from an app store; block distracting or harmful apps on university owned devices.
  • Administrators can ensure that all devices accessing networking resources are continuously up-to-date with the latest versions of the software (i.e. security patches, virus guards, operating systems, etc.)
  • For younger students, administrators can restrict network access over short periods of time on devices to prevent over exposure to apps or websites that may have a negative impact on these students.

Improved Access to Learning Material and Content Delivery

Once a comprehensive MDM strategy is deployed, educational institutions and teachers can focus on delivering engaging learning material to students. MDM is especially useful for facilitating remote learning. Students who do not have reliable access to WiFi connections can use mobile hotspots on devices. IT admins can ensure that devices are used as hotspots and for educational purposes only. Moreover, multiple users can use the same device as personal data is secured. This is particularly helpful if students are sharing their devices with other family members. Whilst a MDM strategy cannot solve the digital divide entirely, it can help improve access to online learning material where devices are available.

A Checklist For Selecting a MDM Solution

When looking for a MDM solution provider for your educational institution, these are the top features and capabilities that IT admins must consider:

  • Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)/ centralized device management
  • Identity management
  • Integration options with third party platforms
  • Data analytics and dashboards

If you’re getting started with a MDM strategy at your educational institution, do let us know. We’re happy to help you with your requirements.

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