The events of recent years have accelerated the use and integration of technology into all aspects of education, from how curriculum is taught to the modes by which students learn and connect. Not only does the use of technology in education support the development of skills needed for careers of the future, but it also enables an adaptable learning environment that ensures education continuity in the face of any future disruption.
Educational system IT departments are critical for the success of schools today, working to provide access to safe, reliable, and performant systems that maximize teaching and learning time.
Managing education IT infrastructure is a daunting task, with a scale and footprint that rivals or bests that of large enterprise companies but with additional complexity and a constrained budget and staff.
A robust device management suite can help IT teams in education scale technology deployments as needed and reduce the volume of direct-touch and time-consuming fixes, resulting in positive impact on the entire IT infrastructure.
What Is Device Management?
IT staff spend the majority of their time managing and maintaining student, teacher, staff, and school devices. Device management activities may include provisioning and distributing new devices, troubleshooting, resolving break-fix issues, and regularly deploying new software, updates, or patches to ensure devices and overall infrastructure remain secure and functioning optimally.
Device Management vs. Mobile Device Management (MDM)
Both mobile and stationary devices need to be managed for security, stability, and performance. When you’re selecting a device management solution, it is important to consider how and where the devices will be used, and the end user’s workload needs to ensure adequate capabilities and support.
Mobile devices—laptops, tablets, and 2-in-1s—not only have to support a wide range of tasks and applications but must also prove to be reliable and secure when used in diverse environments and connected to any network. Stationary devices—like desktops used in libraries, labs, and offices—typically stay at a fixed location. Manageability of these stationary devices is also important, but because of the more constrained working environment, the volume and complexity of unexpected management scenarios is likely reduced.
How Device Management Improves Education
When devices are well managed, they blend into the learning environment rather than act as a barrier, enabling educators to focus on teaching and students on learning.
Students thrive on the social and emotional aspects of learning, and their devices not only connect them to the learning environment but also to their peers. If their device doesn’t work well, they may find themselves unable to participate in classes or engage with others. And if their device is plagued by performance or stability issues, they can’t learn as efficiently. Teachers also require a robust device that can handle a wide range of workloads so lessons can continue uninterrupted.
Devices that are effectively managed so they are up to date and right-sized for student and teacher usage needs are critical to education success. This is particularly important in today’s hybrid/remote learning environment where devices managed by schools are often the primary conduit to access.
Minimizes Potential Network Vulnerabilities
Among all industries, the education sector is considered one of the most vulnerable to cyberattacks and the second most lucrative target for ransomware due to gaps in network security.2 Keeping teacher, student, and faculty information secure and well managed is crucial. Additionally, with so many students learning in a hybrid or remote environment, keeping device networks secure is vital.
OS, software, and patch updates are critical for maintaining and enhancing security defenses. These updates can be particularly challenging, especially on a large scale. Remote management solutions that can automate update rollouts or wake systems and apply patches during off-hours become vital in these scenarios.
If your fleet includes devices built on the Intel vPro® platform, you’ll also benefit from out-of-the-box hardware-enhanced security features that help protect all computing stack layers. Central and exclusive to the Intel vPro® platform is Intel® Hardware Shield, a set of integrated hardware-based security features that protect and defend computers at the firmware, hardware, application, and data layers against advanced security threats.
The Intel vPro® platform is also technologically aligned and mapped with tools provided by Microsoft and other large industry vendors.
Blocks Access to Inappropriate Content
Having a safe learning environment is key for students to thrive. One method for addressing this is through managed control over content students have access to and over who has access to the network, specifically to prevent inappropriate material from making it into the learning environment. This can be a tricky task for IT professionals, as the internet is also a tool for learning. A robust device management solution needs to be flexible enough to enable safe learning without being overly restrictive. Hardware-based solutions help secure devices where it matters without getting in the way of learning.
Enables Remote Troubleshooting
With limited staff and a large, distributed device fleet, education IT teams can’t be available on-site at every school building to troubleshoot and address device issues. Travel time to schools is also inefficient and costly. In cases where students and teachers are remote, IT staff are often waiting on devices to arrive to fix them. This also leaves the user having to wait several days—without a device to teach or learn with—for the device to ship to and from the IT department.
Remote management gives IT teams access to devices wherever they are—at home, at the local coffee shop, or in a classroom. In addition to enabling troubleshooting and device repair capabilities, remote management also provides a path for scaling and timing updates to ensure the maximum number of devices are up to date and to minimize the impact of maintenance during key usage hours.
If your device management system supports provisioning of hardware-based remote management capabilities, IT administrators can access, manage, and repair devices even when they are powered off or out of band, which is especially important for remote and hybrid learning environments.
Intel® Technologies for Education Device Management
Intel has a variety of enterprise-level technologies built on the Intel vPro® platform that help extend existing manageability solutions.
Intel® Active Management Technology
Intel® Active Management Technology (Intel® AMT) is a hardware-based system built on the Intel vPro® platform that provides security enabled out-of-band connectivity from IT directly to the end user. Intel® AMT allows IT to remotely fix issues, repair corrupted drivers, and install software even when the operating system is down. This kind of robust remote management is also useful for interactive whiteboards, which are often used for active learning in classrooms.
Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant
Intel® Endpoint Management Assistant (Intel® EMA) is a software feature of the Intel vPro® platform. Intel® EMA can provide IT with a security-enabled, remote, hardware-based connection to manage devices inside and outside of a school’s firewall.
Device as a Service (DaaS) with Intel vPro®
DaaS is a subscription-based service that enables IT departments to deploy a full slate of end user devices with the help of a third-party service provider that manages device provisioning, distribution, troubleshooting, and life cycles.
When DaaS deployments incorporate Intel vPro® devices, schools get the best of both worlds—reliable PCs with the performance and features students and teachers need combined with modern manageability tools that help minimize downtime.
By having a specialist take on most, if not all, of the managed IT services related to their PC fleet, schools stand to gain tremendous value and save time.3 It also allows IT staff to engage in higher-value activities, such as strategic IT planning, which further increases the value and scope of an IT budget.
For example, the Frankfurt am Main (Frankfurt) City School Department worked with REDNET, a specialized systems integrator, to roll out 7,500 new PCs powered by the Intel vPro® platform across the city’s 170 schools, from classroom PCs to flexible notebook sets to PC labs. A following phase will roll out 15,000 more onboarded desktop PCs to support a total of more than 96,000 end users. One driver for the selection of Intel vPro® devices was the integrated Intel AMT® remote management capability that is helping the department to save time, reduce the cost of on-site service, and improve their IT infrastructure.
A Critical Tool for Education IT
With technology integrated so deeply in education, effective device management has never been as important to the continuity of teaching and learning as it is today. IT teams in education need robust tools to help them efficiently manage and maintain their large-scale distributed device fleets and IT infrastructure. With a device management solution in place, IT can streamline processes, reduce time on common tasks, and expand their reach—helping to provide performant, security enhanced, and reliable devices for the teachers, students, and schools they support.