The evolution and future of Edtech: A chat with Aaron Webb, Sr Product Marketing Manager at Jamf
How has the pandemic impacted the way we view edtech?
The pandemic has had a significant impact on the way that edtech is viewed within the education system. In the last two years, we have seen technology brought to the forefront, as schools have adopted platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom in order to enable teachers to provide learning to children of all ages. There has also been an increase in device purchases or repurposing of existing devices in order to provide students with access to these platforms. While some schools have relied on student having access to their own device at home in order to keep teaching as best they could, others already had devices in the hands of students and the systems in place adapted in a different way. What started as reactive for most and a forced move to use technology has become a learning curve where all schools, even if they already had an established 1:1 programme or already used Teams or Google to reset. Technology in education has many benefits and schools have seen that, from accessibility and providing differentiated resources to cutting the amount of paper used. They have realised what can be done outside the walls of the classroom and they saw the importance of having a structure in place to flip to online learning whenever required. However, during the pandemic, there was little time to implement a strategy or enable staff with the new tools and skills. Some schools still had key worker children on site while teaching remotely so had to juggle both face to face and online learning. We are now in a period where schools are focused on students who are back in the classroom but they are also able to review the workflows they were using both prior and during the pandemic. Many schools are reflecting on those free offerings to blend with other paid-for solutions, for example using Google Classroom as a free offering but moving to Showbie for digital assessment and feedback. Apple devices are being used to blend Google tools with the Apple ecosystem and the need for both teaching training and IT management of devices has grown rapidly. There is also more focus on security, with devices being issued without the knowledge, skills or tools to secure them, and an increase in cyber attacks on schools and universities means protecting students, devices and the networks are now a huge requirement in education. The pandemic has certainly fast-tracked the digitisation of education considerably and will continue to shape the future of learning, professional development with tools and platforms to support.
What is Jamf and how are you making a difference in the education sector?
Jamf is the leading Apple enterprise management solution of scale that remotely connects, manages and protects Apple users, devices and services. Our flagship education solution, Jamf School, recently surpassed 5 million devices and provides simple education-focused tools and value-added workflows, not only for the IT admin to manage and secure Apple devices but Teacher, Student and Parent apps to empower student success. Jamf provides a holistic management solution for schools of all sizes that manages every aspect of Apple devices through to provisioning devices right from purchase, through to the deployment with zero touch for IT which gives the ultimate buy in for staff and students who unbox their brand new device, power on and see all their apps and setting configured based on their sign in. With our security solutions and management offers, we can help schools monitor and prevent malware threats, and provide safe online learning environments, all without invading user privacy. We support the use of our devices and tools with training and robust help for IT admins but also free online professional development for the Jamf Teacher app with our Jamf Educator platform. Teachers can learn, try and apply in a simulation environment before rolling out across the school. We celebrate their success with a Jamf educator badge to share on social media and as part of their professional development but also invite them to join our dedicated education hub within Jamf Nation, our online community of IT professionals.
What differentiates Jamf from other edtech solutions?
Jamf empowers student success. We know that many stakeholders play a huge part in this and we have tools and solutions to support those key personas. IT, teachers, the students themselves and parents and carers. Each tool and workflow enhances engagement between teachers, students and parents while simplifying IT workflows. It is a unique proposition that presents a variety of capabilities that allow for management of devices by a number of different stakeholders and participants regardless of IT knowledge and skills. Each of these is adapted and created specifically for its role in this journey. Jamf has carefully considered what is required for each participant and developed a capability to support their function.
These solutions become even more powerful with our integrations and solution partners. Our integrations with Microsoft and Google mean schools can choose Apple and use the systems they know and love to form a powerful combination that suits their needs. By choosing Apple they can still use their Google or Microsoft systems but blend the Apple ecosystem for a better together approach.
We extend that experience even further with solution partners through our Jamf Marketplace. There is a wealth of solutions and integrations that allow schools to use systems they already have or are looking to adopt with Jamf, whether that be IT solution or teaching and learning specific apps such as Showbie, Explain Everything or digital signage solutions for their Apple TV fleet such as Carousel or Trilby TV.
How is Jamf combating some of the main security concerns in the edtech space?
The technological landscape is constantly evolving, and it is imperative that learning institutions take the necessary measures to combat the latest threats and security risks to prevent any potential problems. The use of technology in the classroom can be invaluable but steps need to be taken to protect both children and teachers alike, while also respecting and conserving their privacy.
Our solutions offer an easy way to remove concerns around security and harness a safe learning environment. Jamf has a robust and comprehensive knowledge base of the potential threats and has solutions that work to mitigate them, giving teachers and students the tools for success while keeping them safe from harm.
Jamf have announced their latest tool to keep users safe while they work. Jamf Safe Internet will be available for macOS, iPadOS and iOS this summer, combining content filtering and network threat prevention features that block unsafe content and malicious attacks so students can learn safely anywhere. This protection also includes software to stop malware and phishing attacks in their tracks. Jamf Safe Internet uses a vast content-filtering database and lightweight technology, so the learning experience of the user is not hampered and continues to provide the best Apple experience teachers and students know and love, while avoiding an invasion of student’s privacy. This is yet another layer of protection in place in addition to the existing safeguards in place throughout the Jamf’s Education solutions.
What do you think about the future of edtech?
Edtech, at its core, looks to empower teachers, parents and students, both inside and outside the classroom, to use technology as a tool to simplify and progress learning methods and make education as effective as possible. We know that the pandemic has accelerated its progress, but I think we are still yet to see the best to come. Technology is constantly evolving and developing, and the possible applications are vast. However, there are still areas that need to adapt. Exams and assessment were impacted during the pandemic. Schools need to rethink how students are assessed and consider digital assessments – edtech can definitely play a huge part in it.