BYOD is a well-known acronym and one of the most popular topics among the millennial students. It means more than every student simply carrying their mobile devices to classrooms and campus. Through BYOD, every learner has fast and reliable access to the latest information online on the devices of their choice.
Colleges and universities around the world have taken their first step towards a BYOD friendly environment. Consequentially, the number of educators and learners who have incorporated their personal devices into their educational environment has increased by multi-fold over the years. According to a research report by Global Market Insights, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) market is estimated to value $366.95 billion by 2022.
Let’s look at the Bradford Networks ‘Impact of BYOD on Education’ Survey based on the response of more than 500 IT professionals from colleges, universities and K-12 school districts across the US and UK. 89% of respondents stated that they allow students to use their own devices on campus networks while 84% of schools who do not currently allow BYOD stated that they receive frequent requests from students and faculty to be allowed to do so.
To meet the evolving expectations and requirements of students, colleges and universities must follow a robust adoption strategy for BYOD in higher education.
Here are some of the steps colleges and universities can take to implement a stronger adoption strategy for BYOD on campus:
- Prepare your network
One of the biggest challenges of creating a BYOD environment on campus is ensuring excellent network bandwidth. Modern users expect fast, 24×7 wireless connectivity and 24×7 user access support and anything less amounts to dissatisfaction. Increase in mobile devices and inflation in traffic due to media-rich applications place high demands on the network as well. Therefore, campuses must work to upgrade their wireless network management, increase wireless access points for stronger coverage and have a modular approach for planning demand in network resources.
- Managing security concerns
The end users are the weakest link in the security chain through any network. Campuses that are focused on their BYOD strategy must source adaptive multi-factor authentication (MFA) and set up VLANs to mitigate security risks to confidential campus data. Another looming threat is that of viruses infecting campus resources through personal devices. Some of the necessary steps to manage network security on campus are:
- Ensuring that all user devices are registered for identity management.
- Providing antivirus and antimalware software for all student and staff computing devices.
- Educating students, faculty and staff about network policies and security best practices.
- Utilizing two-factor authentication for all users before they enter the campus network.
- Building additional security firewalls around mission critical applications and campus databases.
- Backing up all critical campus data to the Cloud.
- Strategy and governance
Before colleges and universities implement BYOD environments, they must identify objectives and map out their governance and strategy methods. They must also plan for future implementation of virtualization and other technology solutions that boost next-gen learning. Campuses must also keep compliance regulations and data privacy laws (GDPR, GLBA) in mind before authenticating access to their users.
Compelled by the ever-increasing benefits of flexibility, readiness and diversity, the BYOD strategy will continue being adopted by educators and learners around the world. Personally-owned computing devices are enhancing the educational experiences for students, and campus IT leaders must take necessary steps to allow their students to seize this opportunity for growth and academic success. This would mean stronger policy and compliance checks for end users. Campuses must also strengthen their defenses against ransomware, malware, viruses, cyberthreats and data theft by continually managing their security posture.
About the Author
Joseph Redwine is the President at OculusIT. He has over 30 years of senior executive experience in the higher education sector. Joe entered the higher education services industry because of his passion to serve and support the mission of higher education and its service to students. Joe also has a record of service to the nation. He has served as the CIO for the Florida Air National Guard and as the strategic advisor for continuous improvement of its command, control, communications, and intelligence capabilities. Joe honorably retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force and Air National Guard.