IT | Security

A Summer Plan for Student-Held Devices

By: Surita Bains | 7/17/2020 | 5 min read

Traditionally, summer break is when many K-12 school districts reclaim and recondition their school-owned laptops and tablets. Applications are updated, machines are reimaged, some are recycled. This summer though, the picture looks entirely different after students, faculty and staff were forced into a remote learning circumstance with the onslaught of the global health pandemic in March. Even schools who didn’t typically provide learn from home technology had to repurpose devices for remote learning.

The decision to collect or not collect devices at the end of the school year varied widely this year– some districts chose to have them turned in, many others did not.  Absolute’s own research showed 50% of schools only collected devices for students who were graduating or moving out of the district. As school board leaders, administrators, legislators, and others continue to debate what the start of the 2020-2021 school year will look like, IT must manage, secure and be able to locate devices that, in many cases, are out in the hands of students.

For the districts who decided to leave devices with students for the summer, what should be done next to ensure a smooth learning experience this fall? Absolute customers already have the tools needed to support safe, effective learning, no matter where the devices are.

Summer maintenance

  • Either create or maintain an accurate device inventory and be able to manage them remotely.
  • Define your expectation for student device use over the summer and act accordingly.
    • If you expect students to regularly use the devices over the summer (for learning and other purposes), conduct regular device checks in’s and understand how they are being used, including what websites students are visiting.
    • If you expect students to hold onto devices but not use them over the summer, consider implementing geofencing rules so you are alerted when the device leaves a certain, pre-defined area.
  • Use Absolute Resilience to retain command of all your endpoints, all the time, even if they’re off your network, with a persistent link between your dashboard and devices.

 

Back to school readiness

  • Communicate with all students and have them acknowledge they still have the device before the start of the new school year. If they don’t know where the device is, send an EUM and/or lock the device if needed.
  • Remotely update all devices to ensure they are ready for learning in the new school year.
  • Consider checking the device for any personal, sensitive information that the student or other family members may have left on the device over the summer.
  • Use Absolute Reach (a part of the Absolute Resilience platform) custom query capabilities which gives you the power to detect, understand, and remediate vulnerabilities across 100% of your endpoints on-demand, no matter where they are.

 

Start of school (regardless of learning format)

  • Preparation is key. Inevitably, some students will return to school, in-person or virtually, and say they don’t have or can’t find their device. How will you track and recover it?
  • Ensure critical endpoint management and security applications persist throughout the school year.
  • Use the Absolute Visibility platform for persistent visibility and to build accurate hardware and software inventories and Application Persistence which is already embedded in over 1 billion devices worldwide. It maintains a direct, two-way connection to the device and enables the reporting and remediation of critical applications.

The Absolute platform provides visibility and control to more than 3.2 million devices in 32 of the 50 largest school districts in the U.S. and we serve more than 1,700 institutions. Our technology supports 1:1 remote learning programs by acting as an undeletable digital tether to all your devices, data and applications.

For more on safe and effective remote learning, visit our Distance Learning Solutions Hub where you’ll find insights on the impact of COVID-19 that are updated weekly as well as several stories of schools who have successfully implemented distance learning.