Device management for edtech touchscreens

Nadav Avni, Chief Marketing Officer at Radix Technologies, looks at the role of touchscreen technology in the classroom, and the need for device management.
Nadav Avni, Chief Marketing Officer at Radix Technologies, looks at the role of touchscreen technology in the classroom, and the need for device management.

While the concept emerged in the mid-1960s, the touchscreen made its first appearance on the market back in 1971 with the introduction of the PLATO IV terminal at the University of Illinois. This was the first classroom touchscreen computer. Since then, companies have made efforts to integrate touchscreen technology into everything from calculators to video game consoles to car control panels. None of these efforts saw substantial commercial success until decades later, when touchscreen technology was integrated in mobile phone use. The Palm Pilot made a successful run as a handwriting recognition device in 1997 followed by the runaway success of the iPhone ten years later. Now touchscreens are everywhere, from the drive-thru window to the classroom. Touchscreen technology is so commonplace that EdTech devices now even need their own device management systems.

The future of education Is touchscreen

Today’s students—made up of Generations Z and Alpha—are digital natives. Both generations have been shaped since birth by digital technology’s omnipresence. They watched preschool videos via YouTube on their parents’ smartphones and played their first games using touchscreen devices. The internet is something they take for granted. This digital background is pushing schools to adopt fully digital classrooms as well. After all, how much can you expect digital students to learn in an analog setting? 

Touchscreens, whether tablets or digital whiteboards, are a cornerstone of the modern education system. Thanks to the preponderance of iOS and Android devices in circulation, operating touchscreens comes second nature to today’s students. As a result, this intuitive technology is sweeping classrooms nationwide. 

The United States leveraged the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to vault its education system to a more digital setup, further hastening this adoption. The CARES Act, passed in March 2020, allocated US$35.8bn For the Department of Education to upgrade its education technology resources. This includes hardware, software, teaching resources, and infrastructure. Think classroom teaching aids like digital whiteboards, kiosks, and touchscreens. 

Managing edtech touchscreen devices

Surely administrators and teachers will find much use for digital devices like interactive whiteboards and touchscreens. The challenge for schools will be taking care of these devices between classes, school days, and years. How do you ensure the investments work as advertised and continue to do so for an extended period of time? 

Administering individual devices requires school districts to maintain an attentive and disciplined IT staff. Dealing with hundreds of devices scattered across a number of schools around the state can make management a challenge. Even more challenging is performing maintenance and update tasks for all the devices, including those issued to students.

Device management systems to the rescue

Ideally, touchscreen and interactive device vendors should include mobile device management (MDM) software in their products as part of their value-added support. MDM software connects to individual devices remotely, eliminating the need for costly field visits. These systems can perform routine maintenance and specialized tasks like upgrades, updates, or installations simultaneously across all registered devices, or target certain devices as needed. A robust device management system gives school IT administrators an effective way to track and manage devices remotely, and perform regular monitoring and ad hoc inspections. 

Device management can handle security for school devices

Additionally, MDM systems allow users to easily manage device security. School devices are often subjected to vandalization and pranks. Individuals might also try to use school devices for non-school activities outside their scope, be it connecting to outside networks, downloading school or student data, or changing settings.

Thankfully, competent device management software can handle remote security jobs for school devices. School IT administrators can lock devices remotely with an MDM system so as to prevent unauthorized access. It can also render devices useless or wipe school data when indicators report that a device has been transported outside its assigned district. MDM software can prevent students from fiddling with system settings and block unauthorized applications, and protect the integrity of each school device’s data by limiting its usage to approved school activities. In cases of emergencies or unauthorized use, administrators can take over the device and control its functions remotely. 

Edtech devices should have device management software bundled

As we wade ever deeper into a digital future, schools can benefit from committing wholesale to technology and acquiring fleets of smart touchscreens and interactive whiteboards for teaching purposes. Generations Z and Alpha—and all future generations—are digital natives, so it makes sense to adapt our educational approaches to suit their needs. But as schools amass these collections of digital tools, they would also benefit from utilizing a mobile device management software bundle to help with fleet management. 

Using device management, school district IT teams can: 

  • control devices via remote access in real-time
  • remotely wake up, restart, and shut down devices
  • configure settings and install, update, and patch software 
  • issue school alerts to all or selected devices 
  • enforce policies on device usage, restricting apps and content
  • lock devices to kiosk mode to prevent unauthorized usage

The ideal device management software can perform maintenance and management activities without the need to physically obtain school devices. Instead, MDM systems connect remotely to all registered school devices and perform routine tasks. A good device management system should also help secure school devices and prevent their unauthorized usage. Mobile device management systems are a boon for schools looking to adapt to the digital revolution. The future is digital—convert your education strategies accordingly today to keep up.

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Amber Donovan-Stevens

Amber is a Content Editor at Top Business Tech

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