Enhancing the digital classroom

Dave Saltmarsh, educational evangelist at JAMF Software, on how mobile device management tools foster unique learning experiences

It’s no secret that the rapid evolution of technology and the rise of the digital classroom has changed the face of education, from advancing the way teachers do their jobs to the way students learn. While advances in technology have broadened the possibilities in education, it has also put more strain on IT departments and teachers that are adapting to this new culture. With more digital devices in the classroom today than ever before, it is crucial that teachers have access to technology that can save them time and reduce stress, while ensuring a positive learning environment for students.

Mobile device management tools put tasks that were previously handled by IT directly in the hands of teachers. Without these tools, teachers have to alert the IT department every time an issue – such as a student being locked out of their mobile device due to a forgotten passcode – arises.

By putting the right tools directly in the hands of teachers, they are able to regain valuable teaching time, mass customise and personalise learning, and provide secure testing scenarios. This allows teachers to spend less time waiting for IT to save the day and more time on enriching students’ learning experiences by doing what they have set out to do: teach.

Today, most schools are focused on providing classroom management capabilities to the small percentage of digital classroom early-adopter teachers. In order for more teachers to embrace technology the way these early adopters have, education institutions need a shift in emphasis to pay more attention to that larger percentage of non-tech savvy teaching staff. To understand the needs of both technology veteran and novice educators, their three greatest challenges must be taken into account:

1. Providing mass customisation and personalisation of learning

The traditional technology model involves a structured annual schedule that mandates when mobile devices in the classroom are collected and new software is added. It is not easily customisable for each student’s unique needs in an age when teachers are being asked to mass customise and personalise student learning. With mobile device management tools, teachers can easily update and install apps and content to cater to each student’s individual learning needs. For example, if a student is passionate about a certain subject and shows a strong desire to learn more beyond what was discussed in the classroom, a teacher can provide them with access to a book on that subject on their mobile device. A student with a learning disability such as dyslexia can be granted quicker, easier access to visual learning software apps. Teachers are not only able to customise devices up front, but also at a moment’s notice. As teachers are given the ability to decide when it is the right time to install and update apps, they create a more meaningful experience for the student.

2. Chaos in the classroom

Today’s teachers will tell you that having a chaotic classroom environment is the single biggest challenge they face when trying to control student mobile devices in the classroom. Without the proper tools at their disposal allowing them to seamlessly manage transitions from one task to the next, attempting to seize the attention of students and provide brief instructions can take up a significant amount of time. This can be especially difficult for non-tech savvy teachers, who are already struggling with the challenge of managing the digital classroom.

With an effective mobile device management tool, teachers can easily control the apps that students are able to access on their devices, ensuring that they are actively engaged with the appropriate assignment. Therefore teachers can save time being empowered to unlock, restrict or enable devices in the classroom. In this way, technology becomes a time saver and not a time waster for the teacher.

3. Providing secure testing scenarios

Juggling the desire to provide each student with customised content with the need for equity in the classroom can be a tricky balancing act. Educators often have doubts about changing their instructional practice from paper to digital because they want to preserve a secure, fair testing environment. Mobile device management tools enable teachers to create a comfortable and consistent environment that ensures fair testing. By locking student devices into a secure testing app, teachers can ensure consistency in learning environments by providing simplified support for both daily quizzes and large scale exams.

Educators in today’s digital classroom need tools that allow them to do all the things they did before the advent of the digital classroom, in a way that doesn’t require them to spend extra time learning how to use the technology. The job of technology in education is to create the conditions for success, for both the teacher and student. In the schools, colleges and universities delivering solutions that save teachers time and provide students with unique learning experiences, everybody wins.