Data Protection in the Digital Classroom: Is MDM Software Becoming as Relevant as Zoom?

in Professional Development

In the world of education, nobody wants to risk compromising the privacy of their students – whether in a public or private language school. Often, the teacher is held accountable by both parents and the school. This is where Mobile Device Management software shines by providing a user-friendly way to handle data protection in the digital classroom.

What do Google, Microsoft, SAP, Samsung and IBM have in common? Except for being tech and software giants, they, and many more, all use Mobile Device Management software (MDM).
MDM means securing, monitoring, managing and supporting mobile devices – smartphones, tablets and laptops – through software.

The whole industry has steady financial growth and growing importance in all parts of the world. In 2020, the MDM software industry was valued at about 3.5 billion dollars on a global level.

What’s the secret sauce here?

The answer is probably not too exciting – demand. That’s right, good old market demand for the type of software that could make the difference between a successful company and a scandal-ridden one. Millions or even billions could be lost if security is breached and clients’ data stolen or leaked.

What if…?

Let’s consider the following example: a medium-sized and family-owned marketing agency has around 100 employees. They are a reliable company with an impressive portfolio and some global players as their clients. One of the graphic designers, David, likes bowling and is a member of the local bowling club.

Great news! David’s team has made it to the regional bowling cup’s final tournament. The team takes a mini bus and goes on a weekend getaway to have fun and win the tournament.

You win some, you lose some. This time, they won. Super!

Fast forward: David comes to the office on Monday morning, wearing a freshly-printed T-shirt saying “Bowling Champion”. Everyone in his team is excited for him. After sharing a few stories, hard-working David returns to his desk.

Around 2 pm on the same day, the emails start pouring in. The majority of their customers from the last six months are emailing them to check their IT security system. Someone has hacked clients’ accounts using data the marketing company had access to. The company is rapidly bleeding client data. At that stage, it’s impossible to keep it a secret or to be discreet about it.

Their reputation as a reliable company is out the window for the most part.

Innocent actions – calamitous side effects

How did we get from bowling to a security breach? Relatively simple. When David was at the bowling center at the tournament, he logged onto a public Wi-Fi and that’s when things went sour.

A not-so-nice IT professional used the public Wi-Fi network to infect David’s laptop with a new type of malware. New is the key word here. All types of malware (viruses, trojan horses, spyware etc.) develop and transform very quickly. Thus, even with the best security software, it’s not possible to keep up with all the modifications and new versions out there.

These days, information is everything.

The bottom line is: every time someone logs onto a network, whether a free Wi-Fi Hotspot, home or office network, both sides are exposed to potential security issues or breaches. Perhaps even by no fault of their own. They could simply be a carrier for the malware – just like David was.

The example illustrates why numerous companies now use MDM software in order to protect themselves and their data. Because these days, information is everything. A company’s reputation can thus be damaged beyond repair in a matter of days.

Data Protection in Education

Similarly, in the world of education, nobody wants to risk compromising the privacy of their students; whether in a public or private language school. This is especially important when thinking about safeguarding the privacy of data when you have 25 minors in the classroom.

Therefore, MDM software plays an increasingly vital role in the classroom of the 21st century. Many US school districts already use it. A few obvious examples of schools’ uses are: preventing students from visiting distracting websites and content, serving as an additional layer of security and simultaneous management of multiple logged in users (students).

There is an extensive list of pros for using MDM software in education, whereas the cons list is getting shorter and shorter.
Using MDM software solutions typically has these advantages:

  • Enhanced security
  • Remote management
  • Improved efficiency
  • Achieving policy compliance

This kind of software is very much in use in the global market, so most big MDM names are already GDPR compliant or CCPA compliant and their product is readily available. In that sense, data protection is completely taken care of.

Good news: the teacher doesn’t need to do anything special.

So if we start thinking about what this means for the teacher, there is good news: the teacher doesn’t need to do anything special. Using MDM software means that the added layer of security is in place and teaching activities can get more time and attention.

MDM software brings many benefits. Anything from managing two devices to 100, the uniformity of using MDM software saves time while ensuring equal conditions for students.

What does all of this mean for your teaching?

The variety of situations in which MDM software may become the norm include, but are by no means limited to:

  • public/private schools
  • language schools
  • universities
  • companies
  • one-on-one training/tutoring situations

We as teachers may not even be the ones using or administrating it, but we could find ourselves on the receiving end of it. For example, doing in-company training, you may need to connect to the company’s internal network for resource sharing. They will add your laptop or phone to their MDM software’s trusted device list and only then will you have access to their network.

MDM software is here to stay. In two years from now, we may not have a choice any more.

My best recommendation about this type of software is to try it. Take advantage of the fact that there are more and more companies making great MDM platforms. Most of them have the option of having a free account, a trial period or product demo. That is exactly what you want to do – register a free account and try using it now or at least this year because in two years from now, we may not have a choice any more.

Mobile Guardian is a company which focuses on education and covers schools in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the UK. You can find out more about it in this short video demo and this Mobile Guardian tutorial.

In summary, MDM software is definitely here to stay. Doing lessons on Zoom and similar platforms in a relatively loose manner has been fine as an emergency measure in a time of unprecedented global crisis. However, it is quite likely that next time we do lessons fully online, we will use MDM software to comply with data protection requirements.
Slobodan Kelecevic
Slobodan Kelečević started out as an EFL teacher but has found his true calling in language training and coaching. He is excited to work in this age of great changes in language learning. For more information about him, check out his LinkedIn profile.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.