Located in Georgia, USA, Banks County School District’s mission centers on “education and empowering for success”. In order to accomplish this within the district, Banks County were the first district in Northeast Georgia to implement 1:1 for all grades. The rationale for a full roll out of mobile devices to all students, was to enhance learning and improve student achievement. However, in order for implementation to be a success, a mobile device management (MDM) solution was required.
With aging technology, desktops in each classroom and dedicated IT labs, it became expensive to maintain and manage IT equipment across Banks County. This, combined with the introduction of more iPads carts (where set up time would take 5 hours), identified the need for an MDM solution. As more and more carts were introduced, the 5 hour set up time needed to be reduced. Banks County trialed a number of MDM solutions, however these placed emphasis on enterprise rather than education and came at a higher price tag with lots of unnecessary, complex functionality. Banks County needed a solution that would address the specific needs of the education sector and they eventually found it in Impero EdLink.
As Banks County moved over to a 1:1 scheme, with PreK-4 students using iPads and grades 5-12 using Chromebooks, a solution that controlled both platforms from a single interface became essential. A well-timed phone call from Impero’s Head of US Sales introduced the district’s Technology Specialist to Impero’s new and exciting education specific MDM solution, Impero EdLink. After receiving a demonstration of Impero EdLink and a trial of the software, Banks County soon realized the functionality was geared specifically to their requirements. Without the need for multiple servers, Impero EdLink allowed IT staff to provision devices, troubleshoot issues and track devices using geo-location management. They were also able to swap device profiles, depending on location, with different rules for school and home environments. As a truly education-focused, cross-platform solution, Impero EdLink would help to support Banks County in delivering an enhanced digital learning environment.
Implementing Banks County’s 1:1 scheme, with Impero EdLink, was a well-planned process, with contribution from all stakeholders in the district. Contingency planning, flexibility and communication were key and teachers are now noticing a change in their classroom environment and are regularly sharing photos of their students using the devices.
Since implementing Impero EdLink, Banks County School District has realized several core benefits, including:
creating good digital citizens – Technology is not set in stone and this is reflected in Banks County’s policies. Some social media sites are blocked throughout the district, but digital citizenship classes are designed in line with ISTE standards to create good digital citizens. This means adopting a monitored approach to technology, as opposed to simply blocking; with granular permissions, Impero EdLink provides the flexibility to achieve this.
proactive approach to technology – Using Impero EdLink, Banks County can stop updates until desired, e.g. delaying iOS updates until all bugs have been fixed post-release. This helps to make sure there are no disruptions in the classroom.
saves time – Before Impero EdLink, Banks County would spend 4 hours a week putting applications onto 5 carts of mobile devices. Now, Banks County can push applications onto 4300 devices in 20 minutes. This time can now be reinvested into more strategic activity for the district.
Q&A with Tim Suda, Technology Specialist
how has Impero EdLink helped support your move to a 1:1 initiative?
Before we moved to 1:1, we allocated our mobile devices on a grant program basis; you had to apply to use the devices. We got a lot of response from this – if anything, too much! This helped show the importance of technology, opened up opportunities for students and confirmed a 1:1 strategy was the way forward. All the stakeholders across the district were supportive of this decision. All we needed was a solution to help us achieve it.
We chose Impero EdLink because Impero listens to us. We even worked with them to help enhance their product and prioritize their roadmap. We gave our opinions on features and they responded, accelerating the development of key features like the application catalogue. This gives students and teachers the ability to select from a range of applications appropriate to their profile, without enforced installation. If a device changes hands, we can assign the appropriate catalogue based on profile tags.
Impero EdLink has really helped support our 1:1 initiative; now we can monitor what students are doing with their apps, lock down and minimize access within any device and swap devices quickly and seamlessly. We have visibility of what’s being installed and why, which, in turn, can help us identify which apps to invest in. If a class is using a free application regularly, we could look into a paid version with greater functionality to improve lessons. Impero EdLink has certainly helped to incorporate these devices into our curriculum. They’re not toys, they’re educational tools that are critical to our learners, especially our non-English speaking students.
what are your next steps?
At the moment teachers are trying to control 30 students and 30 devices and this can be difficult. Our next step is to implement Impero Education Pro alongside Impero EdLink. We want to be able to see what the students are accessing, and the classroom management tools included will help us do that. We’re also really excited about the data captures included as part of the online safety functionality. It’ll help give us a proactive approach to online safety, because it detects words of concern, we’ll make sure no student slips through the cracks. Before we moved to a digital world, the focus was on the student’s offline behavior, but now it’s hard to know what’s going on in their lives. Impero Education Pro will help us monitor and bridge that gap with students again, helping us to help them.
how would you describe our support team?
We’ve always had such a wonderful experience with the Impero support team. I actually submitted a ticket today and they’ve responded with several different options to resolve the issue. It’s great because you actually get a call from them and they listen actively unlike other providers I’ve used.