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BETT 2014: Mobility a top priority for education decision-makers

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By Preston Winn, AirWatch Director of Business Development, Education

Effectively managing mobile technology in the classroom is no longer just a top priority for IT administrators. It is a top priority for all parties involved – from top education decision-makers and teachers to parents and students. That message was loud and clear at the 30th annual BETT show 2014 in London last week, where attendees from schools all over the world came together to trade ideas and learn from one another’s successes and challenges.

I was fortunate enough to moderate a well-attended panel discussion titled “Graduating to a Collaborative and Connective mLearning Environment in the Classroom.” Attendees filled every available space in the room to hear insights of featured panelists Iain C. Morrison, Academic Depute at Lomond School; David Burns, Network Services Manager at Harrogate Grammar; and Paul Dunleavy, IT Director at Dragon School.

The discussion focused on the concept of the flipped classroom, where a teacher in a mobile-equipped classroom becomes more learning coach than sage on the stage, helping students navigate the vast body of educational resources that mobile technology has made available to them. But the most memorable moment wasn’t sparked by one of my questions for the panelists. An audience member asked what each panelist was doing to assess the success or failure of mobility initiatives at each school.

As the panelists unanimously agreed, any major investment in education needs to result in measurable improvements. To measure and demonstrate the value of their mobility initiatives, Burns, Grammar and Dunleavy are doing things like measuring engagement with the technology; taking notes in both announced and unannounced classroom visits; soliciting student, teacher and parent feedback and keeping an eye out for improvements in the quality of student work. One key sign of success is the parent feedback, panelists said. Parents have reported that their children more often come home from school excited to talk about what they learned.

The audience and panelists contended that at the end of the day, it’s the teachers rather than the technology that deserve credit for those successes. Good teachers will be good no matter what kind of technology they are using. An effective teacher will be able to work technology into the learning experience and leverage it as a way to personalize instruction, promote collaboration and encourage students to “own” more of their learning experience. The ability to spark students’ passion for learning has always been in the teacher’s wheelhouse. Technology is simply the fuel that will keep that fire alive both within and beyond the classroom walls.

I think of what we do at AirWatch in much the same way. At AirWatch, mobile technology is our wheelhouse. We are doing what we can in the world of device and application management to give teachers the tools that will move them in the right direction. We’re simply one cog in a much larger machine.

Everyone in education is rushing into the mobile scene. AirWatch understands the delicate balance of mobile security and enablement better than anyone, and through our partnerships with educators, publishers and content developers and OEM providers, I am confident that we will continue to help schools unleash the potential of the learning technologies that are now available to them. At BETT, AirWatch launched Teacher Tools, a simplified management console that helps teachers manage all the devices in their classroom. The fact that our first vertical-specific solution is for education speaks to both our commitment and our firm belief in mobility’s potential to revolutionize the field.

As more educators overcome implementation hurdles and begin introducing mobile technology into the classroom, AirWatch will be right alongside them, providing education-specific classroom management tools that help empower them to spend less time worrying about what their students are doing on their devices and more time inspiring students, as good teachers have always done.

About the Author

Preston WinnPreston Winn is the director of business development for education at AirWatch®, the global leader and innovator in mobile device security and the largest Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM) provider. In this role, Winn builds strategic partnerships and supports education efforts through the delivery of product, roadmap, industry trends and educational impact presentations.

Prior to joining AirWatch, Winn held two titles at Promethean, a global leader providing interactive educational technology for schools. In his most recent position as the head of channel marketing for North America, he was responsible for all channel communications, pricing, strategic road map delivery, campaign and promotion creation and other marketing activities. Before that, Winn held a global product marketing manager position where he was a product expert, conducted market research, managed messaging and positioning strategies, performed win/loss analyses and conducted internal and external trainings.

Winn earned his bachelor’s degree in French language and literature from Brigham Young University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and a Master’s in Physical Therapy from the University of Delaware.

Guest Contributors

Guest Contributors

From time to time, the VMware AirWatch Blog publishes articles submitted by contributing writers, industry veterans, mobility enthusiasts and AirWatch insiders. Their thoughts and insights will be posted under the Mobile Thought Leaders category and can be found on the Contributors author page.

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