One school district's novel approach to MDM policies

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As summer winds down and kids get ready to head back to school, education IT departments are shoring up policies on district-issued laptops and tablets. While most districts are looking at ways to lock down mobile devices before handing them off to students, the Natick, Massachusetts public school district is considering ways to loosen restrictions.

Despite a having solid acceptable use policy in place during last year's initial laptop deployment, students were still able to find workarounds that let them use the devices in ways that were against the AUP. Instead of revoking computer privileges entirely, the school board and its IT department decided to use the opportunity to teach students about good digital citizenship.

"Some might advocate for building higher walls, creating stricter policies, and enforcing harsher penalties. But schools have an obligation to support educational freedom and exploration ... We need to let kids experience the Internet as it is, to discover the many ways technology can help them accomplish great things, and to allow them to make mistakes as part of that learning," notes Trend Micro's Lynette Owens in a piece on PBS.org.

It's not easy for parents or school administrators to adopt an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" attitude and you can be sure it keeps the IT department up at night.

It's a fascinating approach, however, because it illuminates the need to teach children how to stay safe on the Internet while they're still in the relatively controlled environment of the school system.

It won't be long before laptops and tablets become the de facto computing method, so today's youth need to develop solid skills for managing their work and personal lives on mobile devices. While teaching those skills doesn't fall exactly under the purview of the U.S. school system, not all students have regular exposure to computers, so it's good to see school districts willing to pick up the mantle.

For more:
- see the PBS article
- see the Tor project site

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