Students in years 7 to 12 at Ravenswood bring their own technology from home to use in their learning at School.
One of the goals of Ravenswood's BYOD (bring your own device) policy is to help prepare students to be responsible digital citizens, enabling them to use technology in a positive, ethical way. According to the School’s Director of Technology, Elizabeth Westley, the policy is proving to be successful.
“The students are so enthusiastic and positive about it. Rather than have devices tucked away in pockets and secretly looking things up, there is now an environment of trust and openness,” she says.
Students helped formulate a digital citizenship pledge, which they are required to sign before bringing in a device.
How to balance security with accessibility to enable BYOD for a school
For IT managers, it’s a balance between security and allowing students to do what they need for their education says Westley. She solved this challenge by setting up a separate wireless network that the students can connect in to, whilst still providing web filtering and firewall security.
Students in years 7 to 9 tend to bring in tablet devices, smartphones or iPods, while senior students are more likely to bring in laptops or ultrabooks. The School recognised that the students had these devices in their pockets or on a desk at home and decided it made sense to utilize them in the classroom. Students can still access school computers in classrooms and the Learning Resource Centre but, although not mandatory, Westley says a large number of students are bringing in their own technology.
BYOD requires robust high-bandwidth network infrastructure
Westley warns from experience that the network infrastructure must be right, and internet download and bandwidth capacity are critical.
“Our internet download skyrocketed and we had to adjust that accordingly… a component of the IT spend will be redirected to building a robust network to handle BYOD.”
The first step in building a robust network meant ensuring the internet connection was reliable and scalable to meet the demands of our staff and students. The School connected directly to the AARNet optical fibre network, which provides a high-capacity internet service to the School.