It’s nearly 18 months since my Chromebook and Galaxy SII came to college to become my wireless ‘work’ computers. The motivation was simple: the college had a good campus-wide wireless and inconvenient XP wired desktops; the Chromebook booted really quickly and E Mail and MIS had a web interface.
I blogged at the time that I was very content and that Chromebooks and their BYOD ilk must be the future. Eighteen months on what has changed?
I’m still happy-ish. My Chromebook no longer boots very quickly since the last automatic upgrade. I’ve done factory resets and so on but the ‘handshake’ onto any wireless network is still now painfully slow ... God knows what it’s doing but I am tempted to go back to a conventional laptop and use Google-Sync and get the benefit of some local apps. Battery life is still excellent though.
My Samsung SII no longer likes connecting to the college wireless since a major wireless security upgrade so I keep it on 3g. It’s not me, all my students do the same so it must be a BYOD issue.
I can now only access student records (for reports and other MIS work) from a desktop hardwired computer on the LAN and using MS Internet Explorer. Chrome and Firefox do not work except for ‘taking registers’ which work on any browser (and on the wireless).
The wireless ‘times out’ very quickly so woe-betide you if you are using the register-MIS or Google-Drive and someone interupts you.
Our talented head of web-services Brian Lake has left and the ICT support service is clearly fully occupied just keeping all the balls in the air with no spare capacity at all.
So we have an interesting dichotomy. A successful virtualisation of the servers was carried out this summer as was an increase in security. These measures will save power and secure data ... both top priority business objectives. On the other hand the user’s experience has been degraded not only in the ways described above but also in a slower network and a now very flaky MIS which falls over more often than man with no legs.
So hand on heart from a user’s perspective ICT has gone backwards 10 years which brings us back to BYOD.
Why BYOD? It’s simple.
I did a thought experiment and imagined upgrading our campus to (say) new desktops running Windows 8 ( or whatever it is nowadays), migrating to a modern MIS that maybe worked (and retraining managers to do new meta-work), porting all the legacy apps suddenly ‘loved’ by tutors that were ‘essential’ to their courses, sorting out the servers and the infrastructure. No way. No way ... I’ve been a school network manager and that was bad enough but this project I don’t think so. I’m with the London Underground here (have you seen the B/W Dos screens?) if it ain't totally broke don't fix it.
So we are frozen in time. Let’s just accept this and not worry. Put all our eggs in the BYOD basket. Invest in context-based security solutions for channelled wireless management.
RM PLC know this alone amongst the edu-vendors but in business everyone hoping to make a buck is touting BYOD security management solutions.
We are in a privileged position inasmuch as our data is not that valuable, a security whoopsy is not the end of the world so we can be a little bolder than MegaBankorp who may melt down if certain info goes out the window. Also most of the filtering, safeguarding and security problems have been solved.
By investing in BYOD and wireless we fix the aging stock problem, stimulate ebook uptake but more importantly I can go and buy the new high-res super-duper Chromebook 2 and save on my phone bills!