A history teacher would like his students to turn in a history paper on George Washington. Looking around the room, he notices the following:
- 5 students have Windows laptops with MS-Office
- 12 students are using smart phones. Androids and iPhones.
- 3 students have a mac book.
- 4 have iPads
- 1 has a Kindle
- 1 student (because her mom’s an engineer) has a linux netbook.
- 12 students have nothing at all – which means they’ll use the Media Center Computers (which don’t have MS-Office on them).
The question is how to collect the history paper in a standardized format that won’t drive the history teacher crazy (and be easy for the students).
The KEY issue
With a BYOD program, students will come with a variety of devices. The challenge for a school district is to provide software tools that can be utilized by all students on any device. This requires considerable planning.
At Oak Hills, we address this challenge through a private and public cloud.
Our private cloud sits on district owned servers and essentially replicates a desktop experience for students. From home, students can download VMWare View Client and create a virtual desktop complete with district licensed software (for example, the Adobe Creative Suite).
The private cloud is generally used by students who have specific software needs (for example, a classroom assignment that requires the use of Dreamweaver) and do not have access to that software on their own device.
We refer to the public cloud as software that can be accessed with internet connection. The beauty of the public cloud is that it is built on HTML (and various web programming languages) and can be accessed from any web browser. Using software that runs on a website (web apps, etc) allows us to be device neutral.
Some examples of top “Public Cloud” software tools we use are:
Google Apps for Education
Google Apps provides (for free we might add):
- Office software (documents, presentations, spreadsheets, drawings, forms)
- Google Sites (website creator – used for student portfolios and curriculum)
Moodle (free and open source) is the learning management system our district uses to deliver online courses and support brick and mortar courses.
WordPress is a blogging/content management system. Some teachers use it as their online classroom.
What Gets Used the Most?
By far, the public cloud gets used the most often. As such, this affects future planning when it comes to purchasing of software. Preference is given to web based software programs.
Final Note: The Importance of a Modern Web Browser
Because so many of our tools run in the public cloud via a web browser, it is VERY important to have a web browser that follows web standards. Often times with something doesn’t work, it’s because the end user is using a web browser that hasn’t been updated.
This really means avoid Internet Explorer 7 (and often IE8 as well) and under.
As of January 2012, about 70% of the visitors to our district portal use Google Chrome.