Remote or Not: Managing and Maintaining School Devices

Delia DeCourcy

How many devices are you managing right now? And how much time are you (or your small IT team) spending managing those devices?Likely, the answer is more than you were two years ago—or even one year ago. As schools moved to some form of remote learning in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve undergone a digital transformation to ensure educational continuity in the modern classroom. They deployed more technologies and bought more devices to deliver those technologies to remote teachers and students. Or they pulled old devices out of storage and repurposed them.

Either way, the result is your IT team having more balls in the air—or, more accurately, more laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets in the field. This is true even as schools return to face-to-face teaching; those school devices are out there, and they’re likely being used in some capacity.

Keeping track of all those devices can be stressful, especially when you also must push and pull learning apps, install security updates, and endeavor to ensure student safety and data security.

Are you getting a headache just thinking about it?

If so, Lightspeed Systems can be your pain reliever. Its mobile device management (MDM) solution ensures safe and secure student learning resources management with real-time visibility and reporting. MDM equips your IT team with a centralized, cloud-based solution for infinitely scalable device, application, and policy controls and for remote configuration, reporting, and device location across every device and operating system (OS). MDM is just one component of the seamless, flexible Lightspeed ecosystem of cloud-based solutions that provide schools worldwide with reliable filtering, analytics, and device management tools.

Lenovo is partnering with Lightspeed Systems to deliver this ecosystem to schools worldwide as part of their commitment to helping you ensure educational continuity during the pandemic and after, as the modern classroom continues to evolve.

Covering All the Bases for Remote Device Management

Lightspeed MDM makes app management intuitive and flexible with remote configuration and deployment by school, year group, classroom, and student—no matter which major OS is being used. The MDM dashboards allow you to issue, track, manage, and monitor every mobile device in real-time from a single location, enabling straightforward centralized IT control for your school’s entire fleet of mobile devices.

The hierarchical device management platform allows for tier-based administration permissions and visibility, which greatly simplify policy management. Using MDM, your IT team can remotely deploy, change, and revoke hundreds of policies across all devices or a single device, and easily install any app with the press of a button. You can even create start and end policies at specific days and times and remotely lock devices to a single app or for extended periods. So, students won’t be able to spend their spring break working on that big science project, for example (which undoubtably would be a disappointment to the student).

The Self-Service App Library further lessens the IT team’s workload by providing teachers and students access to install approved curriculum and learning tools. If lost, the devices can be remotely located, wiped, and recovered. Altogether, it’s an ecosystem of solutions that, along with best-in-class Lenovo devices, eases the pains of remote device management and creates a more effective and continuous distance-learning environment.

The Key to Maintaining School Devices, Whether Remote or Not

Maintaining educational continuity in any school, particularly during any form of distance learning, starts with students having access to a desktop computer or laptop. The trouble is you can’t protect what you can’t see.

If your school is providing these devices, your IT team won’t be able to ensure they get the updates, patches, and preventative maintenance they need to remain secure and reliable. And chances are, they’re not being updated as they should by teachers or students who aren’t too concerned about device security as long as the computer just works.

It’s also not uncommon for teachers to disable some security measures, such as firewalls, to enable downloading their own software or to allow access to additional sites that help them with their teaching.

Research on endpoint controls shows that:

Based on these statistics, your school needs to do whatever it takes to maintain control over all your devices. But how can you efficiently manage devices that you can’t touch, that aren’t even on your network—and, to make things more complex, that have a mix of operating systems (OSes), as most schools do?

At Lenovo, they think the solution is actually pretty simple: Absolute Resilience® provides a persistent (always-on) and resilient (self-healing, even when tampered with) connection to most every device in your environment. With this fail-safe connection, your team has endpoint management access to all devices (even different OSes) from one management dashboard, even when devices are off the school network and IT staff is working from home.

Absolute is embedded into Lenovo best-in-class endpoint devices’ firmware to give education IT leaders a digital tether that provides an unbreakable connection between them and the device. This tether is tamper-proof and can be enabled almost immediately so you can get the most out of your devices.

The Absolute-Lenovo partnership is part of Lenovo’s commitment to providing schools with the tools they need for a seamless learning experience regardless of where students are learning and which instructional model you’re using.

Complete Management in One Solution

Getting management access into all your devices allows you to ensure device inventory accuracy, manage critical application updates, mitigate security threats, and freeze or reset a lost or stolen device. By tracking where each device is, what it is doing, and preventing or managing application issues for teachers and students, you have the ability to efficiently improve the learning experience.

But more than just providing access and data, you also need a solution that drives security. That means anti-virus compliance, install rate reporting—which will tell your network whether the device is safe or will introduce risk—and an endpoint data discovery scan for sensitive data.

Absolute Resilience®, part of Lenovo’s end-to-end security platform, ThinkShield, has those capabilities—and much more. Absolute is embedded in Lenovo endpoint devices’ firmware to give education IT leaders an unbreakable digital connection with every device. This “digital tether” is tamper-proof and can be enabled with no help from the manufacturer. Application persistence means that Absolute is always there and always-on. The console is easy to use, so you don’t have to have a security expert to manage the remote device. As a result, you won’t have to hire an IT person at the expense of a teaching position.

Addressing the New Device Management Lifecycle

With hybrid learning models being standardized, your IT team needs to rethink the device management lifecycle now that it’s managing and securing more devices remotely. This is made more complex because your team is probably dealing with multiple device models and OSes.

So the team needs a management and security framework that goes deep and wide. A solution like Absolute, which combines the depth your IT team needs with the simplicity of a single pane to manage all devices.

The Lenovo and Absolute partnership supports schools engaged in digital transformation. By streamlining security and IT asset management in a single dynamic console, Lenovo and Absolute make it possible to protect your school’s devices, data, apps, and budget.

Delia DeCourcy is an education leader with over 25 years of experience in leading transformation, developing dynamic programs, and effectively managing projects to achieve desired outcomes.