Mobile Communications

Educational IT crying out for better analytics, BYOD management

A panel discussion at Aruba’s Atmosphere conference on Wednesday talked up the need for better analytics and options for managing floods of personal devices on educational networks.

The need for more extensive mobility management options is clear, according to Aruba, which cited statistics saying that 45% of undergraduate students own three or more mobile devices, and 61% generally connect two devices at once to wireless networks.

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Dan Rivera, Aruba’s product marketing manager for K-12 schools, said that classrooms are overdue for a change, and that new technology has always served as a prompt for educational reform, from the agrarian age to the industrial revolution.

“We saw our classroom change from a farmhouse to what looked like an assembly line, with rows and rows of students segmented by age and grade level,” he said. “Then we saw our workplaces transform in this digital revolution, but the classrooms hadn’t changed … but now we’re seeing that 21st Century catch up in the classroom.”

Most of the session, however, was given over to commentary and discussion from the roughly 50 educational network professionals in attendance.

“Not only do we have to deal with rogue devices that teachers want to bring into the classroom, and set up a little Linksys wireless router, we have teachers handing out their keys to students so that they can get on the network,” said one participant.

Another complained that the switch away from a standardized, school-issued smartphone policy has meant BYOD-induced anarchy.

“I’ve got no control over the phones that are coming in … now it’s going to be the wild west with what we get,” he said.

Many participants felt that a key feature of a more effective network in the future would be analytics and visibility, due in large part to the aforementioned concerns over BYOD. Having more complete insight into the BYODs on network is likely the first step towards being able to manage them more intelligently.

“It’s 2016 and the client space is still a total disaster, so at least from where I see it, we’re looking toward Aruba for analytics platforms,” said one.

“One of the things, at least for me, that I think Aruba can do is I need better analytics – something in the direction of Airwave’s feature set, but at even a broader scale,” said one. “It’s 2016 and the client space is still a total disaster, so at least from where I see it, we’re looking toward Aruba for analytics platforms.”

Working with instructional technology was another area of concern for the assembled networking pros, over and above the day-to-day challenge of providing networking services. As these technologies multiply, they become a larger issue for the network.

“I think that one of the huge things … is the reflection of devices onto a presentation screen or a TV,” one participant said. EasyCast, AppleTV and other suggestions were made, although another participant noted that “AppleTVs probably cost me a couple years of my life,” to general laughter.

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