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Students unable to share to large screens from BYOD devices - isolating network settings inhibiting this

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Started by Carol Kendall 23 Mar 2014 9:18pm () Replies (8)

I am wondering how other schools (particularly primary schools) have set up their wifi networks to enable wireless sharing from BYOD devices to the likes of an Apple TV and large screen, or through software such as the Reflector app on a teachers's laptop. I know that the sharing has to be via the same wifi network.

It is important to us to be able to have students share their learning onto a big screen, from anywhere in the room, through one of these methods, and not depending on a dongle that anchors the user to the front of the room, gets loose and needs updating for new connection types.

We are new to BYOD this year and are trialling it this term with your Year 7-8s. All devices (school-owned AND BYOD) have their MAC address registered into our Ruckus wifi network - no password is required. Our school-owned and teacher TELA devices (Macbooks, iPads) have been set up onto a school wifi network and are able to share via wifi onto a large screen, and share files between each other, and also access files on the server. So far, so good...

But......The BYOD devices (mostly iOS, but some Windows) are set up on a separate BYOD wifi network where (I have just discovered) devices are also 'isolated' and unable to share with each other via wifi. No wonder I couldn't get students to share from their iOS screens, either to an Apple TV or Reflector - this is VERY frustrating.

As I discovered, enabling teacher laptops to also be able to connect to the BYOD wifi, so sharing could occur on large screens, didn't solve the problem because of the isolation setting used in Ruckus by our techs. So, we had students keen to share their movies and other learning from their iOS devices, but they couldn't without taking a very round-about route via the likes of Dropbox. Airdrop wasn't an option....

The tech response to this difficulty is that BYOD devices can only access the Internet. This is to prevent the spread of viruses. If we disable isolation, and an infected BYOD device installs a virus on the other BYOD devices, who would be responsible for fixing all those devices?

They also say that, to securely allow a device on the BYOD network access to an AppleTV on the school's main wifi network would involve reconfiguring every switch on the school network and the Ruckus system. This would cost a few thousand dollars....

We had realised BYOD devices wouldn't be able to access the server, but hadn't known about the isolation factor and its implications.

So, what is the situation in your school? Is there an easy, cheap, and effective solution? Obviously, we appreciate the need for security, but this is taking precedent over our learning values. Your ideas would be appreciated!


  • anamatangi (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 9:39pm ()

    Hi Carol,

    We are an Apple School and have explored how to best manage our school devices with our BYOD devices over the past 4 years.  Our "techie" advised us at the end of last year to move to a smaller server and move everything that is shared to the cloud using Google Drive.  We have a limited amount of teacher resources saved to the new server but we are moving everything to the cloud (slowly, slowly but we are nearly there).  In the meantime, anything new is created on the username or in the cloud (increasingly more in the cloud based on teacher capability).  As we are a school from Year 0-8, with a 1:2 device ratio, we have a huge number of students who are regularly creating and needing to save work digitally.  We decided this was best done through google drive as continuously upgrading our server was costing tens of thousands of dollars.  

    Because of this, and the fact that we have been slowly implementing Apple TVs, nearly 2/3 of the school now, we decided that we all needed to be able to use the same WiFi network but we needed to limit server access to just school and teacher devices.  From there, we have the school devices set up so that they can only save to the desktop or the cloud - in the Year 4-8 students google accounts within our school account.  This is working very well.   All our students access our internet; all can access our Apple TVs but the server is now for a minority of students... but work is still easily shared between students and teachers so it can printed if necessary etc.  We have been practising the access of BYOD to our internet for 3 years and to our internet and Apple TVs, reflector apps/airparrot for 2 years now... no problems with viruses.  Our techie specialises in apple but has not mentioned any specific concern with BYOD devices, other than he doesn't want to deal with PCs, and the devices that access our sharing screens don't access our server and we all run on the same internet - it's not dependent on the server...  I'm not sure what the Ruckus system is but this has not been an issue for us.  

    I know that doesn't necessarily help you but I know we, and other schools in our area, have had no issue with allowing devices to access internet and sharing screens without it impacting the server so I hope that maybe someone has further info on this for you with more technical expertise or someone can recommend a good contact to review this with.   

  • Peter Eaton (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 9:40pm ()

    For iOS->AppleTV, there is a solution for this.

    There are 2 parts to the story: your device 'discovering' the AppleTV and then passing data to it.

    The 'discovery' part was pretty much solved with the latest (7.1) iOS and AppleTV update: iOS devices can now discover AppleTVs using bluetooth rather than broadcasting Bonjour packets which are a pain to route between subnets.

    The 'data' part can be solved by modifying the firewall rules that stop data getting betweeen your WiFis/VLANs/Subnets and allowing only packets to/from your AppleTVs.  I don't buy that this will require reconfiguring every switch/access point on your site: it can be done more simply at the router/firewall (not an optimised solution, but perfectly workable).  To be honest, the most common attack vector for viruses is by hacking human behaviour: of which teachers are probably more susceptible than the students!

    We need to stop accepting "can't" from our techies and get them to supply the pros and cons for us to evaluate. The ICT support mantra of "IT is a cost centre to be minimized, it is succesfull when it is invisible" leads to trying to prevent change to prevent issues.  ICT is now an enabler and an investment: we are prepared to take some risks for the benefit it provides.  

    (Note that I restricted this post to the easiest thing to do within your current situation - it is a different conversation if you are asking what a network that actually meets your need should have looked like)


  • Shona Poppe (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2014 11:38pm ()

    Hi Carol,

    We are an Apple school and we have had digital classes for a few years now and student were allowed to bring their own apple laptops. This year we became BYO(Apple)D, so we have included iPads and all our classes are digital from year 3 - 8. We have a fairly straight forward managed wireless system. We use lightspeed filtering (password required from each user) and the staff use GAFE. The students will be moving to GAFE by next term hopfully. No-one saves to the server (password protected), all work is either saved via "Time Machine" or the cloud. Students use either Kidblog, Edmodo or a Keynote presentation as e-Porfolios. We have Apple TV in four rooms and the rest of the school are still attached by VGA to the data projector (ceiling mounted), so they use Airserver to share on a large screen and to be able to use their iPads wirelessly. The Apple TVs are password protected so no unwelcome 'visitors' interupt a lesson. The same  passwording system can be set up with Airserver.

    BYOD and school devices run on the same network, so sharing is not an issue. We have no Windows devices. Our technicians are brilliant and work with us to make sure the network is of service to us as educators as well as secure as humanly possible. (We are obviously well looked after) We also have one teacher on site that is trained in maintaining the network.

    Solution?? Password protect the server (Is it an Apple server?). Save and share documents via the Cloud (GAFE is free). Everyone access the same network and leave the Windows devices on the BYOD network as most of the virus threat comes from them.

    Good Luck,


  • Suzanne (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 12:34pm ()

    Hi Carol

    We have started using a ChromeCast device. It works similarly to an appletv but overcomes some of the problems mentioned.

    It talks with devices on any network at once, is cheap, easy to set up once you have been shown what to do, devices wanting to display their screen via the chromecast download the chromecast app/plugin. It talks with student devices, school desktops and teacher laptop/tablets all at the same time.


  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 9:24pm ()

    I'd like to thank you all for your detailed responses to this problem. I am really grateful! It certainly seems easier for those of you who are all Apple schools, as we are. However, for the BYOD trial with Years 7-8 we are allowing students to bring whatever they have. We are reluctant to specify platform although we certainly have our preferred option.

    It seems that some of you (like us) add MAC addresses to enable access, and others use passwords, or a combination. We have BYOD wifi access only between 8:30 am and 3:30 pm. Does this sort of thing work well for you?

    We were strongly discouraged by the techs from allowing teachers' personal devices to access the school network - they had to be on BYOD. But I got brassed off with that because teachers were using their personal iPads and iPhones to take photos and support the students' work, but having times limited and no access to the large screens - it was hugely limiting for them - so, I'd already put the MAC addresses of these devices on both networks.....

    I've never heard of the Chrome Cast devices - I'll have to Google them - they are a replacement for Apple TV?

    Being a Mac school, can anyone tell me how to project to a screen wirelessly with (say) an HP Windows laptop (as some students have these). Or do they only work with a dongle? I'm thinking that we may be able to have the few Windows devices on the BYOD, but the other iOS BYOD devices actually on the school wifi.

    Anyway, I'll offer your ideas to our tech and Principal, and we have some very helpful ideas we can think about.

    Thanks so much!


  • Allanah King (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 9:41pm ()

    This could be a real nuisance.

    I have been using DropITtoME http://dropitto.me/ to get photos and videos to my Dropbox account for general sharing.

    Not a perfect solution but a work around maybe.

    The idea is that you link DropItTOMe to your Dropbox account- give the kids the password and a link from your blog and it is really easy for the kids to upload their photos and videos at least.

    How it works is kids make the artefact, go to the blog, find the link, put the password in, select the artefacat and upload.

    I just get it from my Drop Box

    Screenshot Drop It to me


  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2014 9:54pm ()

    That's a handy idea, thanks Allanah - I hadn't heard of that tool. The classes all have a Dropbox account, so I was thinking we will have to get on with using these - causes more wifi and internet traffic, and time though.... nothing like being able to share instantly. But I think your idea would also be useful if we needed to get some things to a teacher for posting on the blog or YouTube. Would be better than emailing for videos. We have used the Photo Transfer app very successfully, but it's not a free app, and of course devices need to be on the same network....

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