PC’s, Macs and iPads: Managing and Securing Thomas College’s Mobile Learning Environment
Located in Waterville, Maine, Thomas College is a liberal arts and business school with approximately 1,100 undergraduate and graduate students and 150 faculty and staff. Committed to preparing its students for careers in business, technology, and education, this private college offers its students—many of whom are first generation college students—guaranteed tuition and job placement within six months of graduation. To help students realize their potential and secure well-paying jobs, the college prides itself on cultivating a thriving academic community. Providing students with access to the most current mobile computer technology is a part of this mission.
When it comes to the inroads that mobile computing has made in education, the state of Maine is no exception. All elementary schools have laptops and every 7th and 8th grader has a designated device for their individual use. “There are even some programs now where kindergarten kids are getting 1-to-1 laptops—or iPads,” explains Chris Rhoda, Vice President for Information Services and CIO at Thomas College.
Several laptops were stolen from the library and from administrative staff. This prompted the Thomas College IT team to begin the search for a security solution to track and secure its laptop deployment. “The impact of a lost or stolen laptop is significant for us,” explains Rhoda. “As a small school with a limited deployment of laptops, it not only hurts our tightly managed IT budget but also steals valuable, productive time from our students and staff.”
When the college began the process of evaluating what the market had to offer, Rhoda’s interest was piqued by a recommendation from Dell, a key technology partner for the college. Dell directed Rhoda to Absolute for endpoint security. Thomas College liked what it saw. “Absolute was exactly what we wanted and checked every single box. It’s an innovative yet well-established product in the marketplace. Plus Absolute had an impressive track record in education,” notes Rhoda. Since deploying Absolute on every laptop in their deployment, laptop theft at Thomas College has decreased significantly. The built-in, data-rich auditing capabilities of Absolute also play a key role at the college, especially during the summer months when laptops travel with faculty members. The IT team can now closely monitor laptops for periods of inactivity and automatically receive alerts when a device has not been powered on for a predetermined period of time. The team can then check in with faculty to confirm the laptop is accounted for, greatly reducing the risk of misplaced or stolen devices.
“Absolute has been a sound investment for us. It immediately provided peace of mind when we first deployed it, and with a five year rotation of laptops, we’re confident it’s the right platform to secure and manage our mobile investments down the road as well.”