"When I looked at Mobile Management, I realized it would be perfect for our 1:1 program."
Director of Technology
Bowling Green School District
At a Glance
- Increased student engagement in learning while controlling access to features and apps
- Gave a small IT staff an easy way to manage thousands of mobile devices and apps
- Met technical requirements without going over budget, providing peace of mind for administrators, teachers, and parents
- Deployed a scalable solution able to accommodate diverse devices and platforms
Bowling Green School District prides itself on preparing students for the future. Recent research shows that schools employing a 1:1 student-computer ratio outperform other schools. So in September 2012, the district started a 1:1 program for K–12 students using affordable Android tablets.
Imagining what a student could do with a tablet is both inspiring and frightening to teachers, administrators, and parents. The 1:1 program meant Robert Guritz, director of technology for Bowling Green School District, had to balance student learning needs with IT security and management needs.
“We needed to be able to lock out certain features, control what goes on a device. Kids can be kids,” he says. “We also needed to be able to push out applications quickly.”
He looked for a mobile device management solution that would be able to:
- Control what students could access over the Internet
- Manage the mobile apps they could use
- Enforce school security policies
- Automatically alert IT staff to problems or setting changes
- Quickly deploy applications to student
- Wipe or disable the mobile tablets remotely
- Support different mobile devices and platforms
- Scale to manage thousands of device
“The ability to lock down devices is helpful in a school district. Students tend to try and get what they want done on their device. Locking out settings, like the camera in certain instances, and controlling apps, are definitely high needs for a school district.”
Another high need was easy manageability. “The tablet is kind of a new frontier for school districts,” Guritz explains. “Along with the other devices in our district, we’re adding hundreds of tablets, and we only have two IT staff.”
Most of all, he needed a solution the district could afford. “When you work in a school district, cost is a major deciding factor.”
Guritz looked at mobile management solutions from Microsoft, LANDesk, and others, but only one met all of his requirements—including total cost of ownership.
“I’ve been using Novell (now part of Micro Focus) for 16 years, enjoying the reliability and manageability of several products. When I looked at Mobile Management, I realized it would be perfect for our 1:1 program,” he says. “We know Novell and the support we would get.”
After installing Mobile Management and configuring the tablets for students, Guritz had to increase the server’s bandwidth to handle increased Internet traffic. Since that change, the 1:1 program is working well with the district’s existing technology.
“So far we don’t have any statistics, but what we have seen in the last few months is increased student engagement,” he reports. “We are flipping the classroom model, and teachers are facilitators now. Student-centered, differentiated learning is definitely a direction schools will need to go—and this 1:1 program has helped us move in that direction.”
Previous worries about inappropriate use of the tablets in school are gone. “Being able to control the mobile apps is my favorite feature of Mobile Management,” he says. “No students have hacked the system.”
Also, teachers are being more creative with the tablets. This was recently demonstrated by a mock legislature lesson in a social studies class, when votes on student bills were instantly tallied by the tablets.
As director of technology, Guritz knows he made the right decision. “Mobile Management has allowed me to manage hundreds of devices without having to touch them. It has made my job easier without having to dedicate much time to setting up the devices for students’ use. And the cost fit in with what we were looking at spending.”
Today, other school districts in the state are keeping an eye on Bowling Green.
“There’s not a lot of mobile management being deployed in Missouri right now. Lots of districts are wondering where they’d go,” Guritz says. “Some schools are using Chromebooks, some laptops, and some iPad tablets for 1:1 programs. The beauty of ZENworks is, it will work with whatever the school board decides in the future.”