Mobile learning embraced, safely

The number of districts implementing mobile learning programs grows every year. Inexpensive Netbook and tablet solutions, as well as increasingly common "Bring Your Own Device" programs, have made it easier for more schools to realize the anytime/anywhere educational benefits of mobile learning.

But districts are recognizing that any program that gives students greater access to online resources and technology needs to also include safety and security measures. Districts across the country are using the Lightspeed Mobile Filter to meet those needs and extend policies and protection to on-the-go learners, whether they are on campus, at a coffee shop, or at home. The solution blocks inappropriate content as well as security-risk sites, based on a comprehensive education-specific database and a district's customized policies.

Mobile learning in particular, where no teacher is nearby to monitor use, requires the implementation of technology solutions to ensure that resources are properly used, users are effectively protected, and devices are secured against viruses.

Schools as large as San Diego Unified and as small as a few hundred students are making their 1:1 programs a success with mobile filtering. Gay Martin, Technology Coordinator at Coleman ISD in TX, which serves 1,000 students, shares, "Coleman ISD is a totally immersed 1:1 district for grades 4-12, so we needed an effective way to protect our network and monitor student laptops at school and at home. The Lightspeed Mobile Filter accomplished this for us."

iOS devices in particular have seen tremendous growth in schools, providing an engaging platform for users; but many districts struggle with filtering content and monitoring use on them. Neal Martin, Technology Specialist at Laurens County School District in GA, has found a solution: "We are using the Lightspeed Mobile Filter application on our newly purchased iPads. We feel this adds value to our students' educational experience by enabling them to safely conduct off-campus Internet research in the same way that they do on our classroom computers."

Districts have found that many filtering products offer no solution for mobile devices; others offer inadequate protection and policies. The School District of Ladysmith in WI chose Lightspeed Systems specifically because of its mobile filtering offering. "Every mobile filtering solution I looked at could easily be broken by a ten-year-old. The Lightspeed Mobile Filter does the best job keeping mobile users on sites that they should be going to, and off the sites they shouldn’t be," says Gary Kohl, technology coordinator for the district.

Schools can create an engaging learning environment when mobile learning is combined with online collaboration. Chrissie Allen, Technology Integration Specialist, at Atlanta ISD in TX, shares how her district is doing just that: “We've given students a safe tool, with MacBooks and the Lightspeed Mobile Filter. We also give them a safe platform, with My Big Campus. It allows 24/7 access to class assignments, discussions, resources, announcements, and calendars." (My Big Campus is included with the Lightspeed filtering solution at no additional cost.)

Districts that have chosen to encourage students to bring their own devices to school, rather than have the district purchase and distribute them, face similar concerns: how and what to filter on-campus, and how to protect the network with the integration of personal wireless devices. Meeting that challenge, Scott Knuckles of Paso Robles School District in CA, shares: "We will have mobile students connect to a separate WAN to mitigate the security risk of student-owned devices accessing our primary network. And we will use the Lightspeed Web Filter to authenticate users and enforce filtering policies when they are using their personal devices on the school campus."

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