Watch Out for that Tree! Android Tablets in Schools #byotchat

As Bring Your Own Device/Technology initiatives expand, not to mention the ability of campus/district administrators to divert funding from a variety of sources (e.g. PTA, grants), it's important to provide some suggestions on what you should buy or not buy.
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For example, one question that should be ever present is, Will this Android operating system work in an "enterprise network environment (WPA2 Enterprise 802.1x EAP network)?" 

It's easy to jump for inexpensive tablets, but will these devices intended for a home network market actually work in schools?

I learned this the hard way with Walmart Android tablets. Not that I bought them but that others did and I had to deliver the bad news--this won't work on our network. It raises important questions in regards to how these made-for-home devices will actually work on school/enterprise networks.

One of the points I never considered with BYOT was whether or not low-end devices--like the Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablet you can get at Walmart for $70--would work on our network.

So, let's consider the items Wes Fryer has shared above in light of the question, Will it work with WPA2 Enterprise, not just WPA2 Personal that runs on people's home networks?
  1. Tabeo - Tech Specs -  It's running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so YES to both.
  2. Kurio - Tech Specs -  It's running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, so NO to WPA2 Enterprise.
  3. Meep - Tech Specs - It's running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, so NO to WPA2 Enterprise.
  4. XO - TechSpecs - It's running Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so YES to both.
Disclaimer: It's important to test these devices out on YOUR network before making big investments (2000 of them or whatever). They may very well not work now but then work in the future after some update or another. In MY situation, the Walmart Android tablets did NOT work. Who knows if the Toys-R-Us ones will?

Response from Rusty Meyners, Android Tablet Expert (really!):
Don't get me wrong - I don't find much to recommend in the two specific devices you mention in your blog post - but anecdotal conclusions answering BYOT questions with 1:1 (or district-owned device deployment) responses gets me into discussion mode.

In every case where I have addressed the enterprise WiFi issue on Android a solution was available but that doesn't invalidate the negative experiences of others. I haven't gotten my hands on a Nextbook 7 yet but even if I couldnt make it work, I would be very slow to conclude that no ICS device will ever coexist with enterprise WiFi.

Much less would I conclude that a BYOT device cannot be accomodated on my network if it can't do WPA2, unless it has been also concluded that BYOT accomodation isn't in our best institutional interest. Earlier I made glancing reference to +Mike Gras 's "Dairy Queen" model because if we really want to support the devices our students carry in, we will be as interested in their business as Starbuck's and Mickey-D's where free WiFi comes with fewer caveats.
There is a huge difference between what should be recomended for a 1:1 deployment and what can be tolerated in BYOT but often the terms are mixed, matched and mismatched. There is even a significant difference in what can be recommended prior to personal BYOT purchases and what can beaccomodated after the ill-considered purchase-or-hand-me-down fact. To downplay these distinctions or our ability to work with them might betray a wish, subconscious or otherwise, to steer the conversation back to a strictly regulated 1:1 or district-owned-device-only scenario.

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Rusty said…
Are you sure it isn't your network that doesn't work on their tablet?
Rusty said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Well, yes, that's exactly the point. Our network (WPA2 Enterprise) doesn't work on those tablets running Ice Cream Sandwich.

It's not an unknown problem. Ideally, all these cheap tablets should have support to work on any network. But they don't.
Rusty said…

I got your point but might need to clarify mine. If their choclit won't go in your peanut butter, try putting some peanut butter on their choklit. Take the mole-hill to Mohammed. Give them a guest network.

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