Why BYOD Is A Disaster Waiting To Happen For Schools

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BYOD in K-12 schools presents massive challenges to IT staff, administrators, and teachers
BYOD in K-12 schools presents massive challenges to IT staff, administrators, and teachers

Apple firmly positioned the iPad as an education solution during its education even in New York five months ago. Even before that, many schools and districts had begun pilot programs of full on iPad deployments. The iPad provides many opportunities in education as well as some challenges.

One of those challenges is cost. That’s not a surprise, considering the number of iPads required in order to give one to each student in a district. The San Diego school district, for example, recently spending $15 million as part of its massive iPad plan that includes nearly 26,000 devices.

Given the cost of such deployments and the attention that BYOD programs have gotten in both the tech and mainstream media over the past year or so, it was only a matter of time before someone in the education technology sector began to talk up the idea of BYOD in education as a way to cut the costs associated with such deployments.

The More Tech-Savvy The Principal, The More iPads In The Classroom

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iPad use in schools more likely when administrators like and use mobile tech
iPad use in schools more likely when administrators like and use mobile tech

With its e-textbook initiative, iTunes U, and a range of educational resources, Apple is pitching the iPad as critical element in 21st century schools. Many schools have already begun iPad tests or full-scale deployments. In other schools, however, there’s still a fight over where and how the iPad and other technologies fit into the classroom. A battle erupted between teachers and lawmakers in Idaho earlier this year over new technology requirements in the state’s schools.

So what makes some schools embrace iPads and other new technologies while others resist them? It turns out that the answer may lie in the personal technology preferences of school and district administrators.

Most Schools Testing iPads, Rate Device Management As Biggest Hurdle

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Most schools are testing, if to yet deploying, iPads
Most schools are testing, if to yet deploying, iPads

There are plenty of stories out there about schools that have already launched large-scale iPad programs or that are considering them for next year. Many U.S. school districts have yet to determine an iPad strategy, however, and are still moving forward cautiously.

In a small survey of public school IT managers, research firm Piper Jaffray identified the iPad as a new technology being tested by the majority of public schools. The survey also offered insights into the the pros and cons that school IT managers are weighing when it comes the iPad and some competing technologies.

Configurator Makes Big Improvements To Business/School iOS App Management

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Pre-loading apps using Configurator
Pre-loading apps using Apple Configurator

Virtually everyone who’s ever used an Apple product has an Apple ID. This user account for all things Apple is most commonly used with the iTunes Store and the iOS and Mac App Stores. It’s used to both authorize purchases and to allow you to access content or run apps after they’re downloaded. Apple’s philosophy is that every person should have their own Apple ID and that each of us should use our individual Apple ID (and only that Apple ID) on each of our devices – iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macs, even PC’s running iTunes or other Apple software.

That’s a great concept, but it creates a big challenge when iOS devices are used in business or school environments. When someone configures an iOS device for an employee or student with a selection of apps and other content (like iBooks 2 textbooks), they need to use an Apple ID. But once that device is deployed, the end user may need or want to purchase additional apps or other materials.

This is often a stumbling block for business-owned devices. And it’s something that Apple has finally begun to address with Apple Configurator.

Apple Configurator – Perfect For Schools And Small Business But Too Limited For Many Big Companies

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configuratorizer

Along with announcing the new iPad and Apple TV (and related iOS and app updates), Apple released a new tool for managing iOS devices in business and education. The new Apple Configurator app is a free download in the Mac App Store for Macs running Lion. Although it takes the sting out of managing iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches for smaller organizations, it won’t replace more full feature mobile management solutions for mid-size or larger companies.