The Four Best Mobile Device Management ‘Apps’ to Keep Students On-Task and Safe in a 1:1 Learning Environment


I'll start with the spoiler: There are no recommended apps here.

Why not? Well, simply because I believe that as important as it is to keep kids safe in a 1:1 environment, to keep them from seeing unsuitable content, to keep them on-task, and to keep them from being exploited, using a piece of software to do all of this is far from ideal. In fact, I believe we lose the ability to teach some extremely valuable and enduring lessons by outsourcing digital citizenship.

Mobile device management (MDM) software allows administrators and users to block, limit and otherwise manage registered devices. In business, MDMs are often used to protect potentially sensitive information from being corrupted or shared (whether inadvertently or otherwise). In schools which have chosen to integrate mobile devices into learning, MDMs are supposed to protect students. There's quite a big difference here. In business, MDMs are used for protecting information, intellectual property and profit margins from human interference, in schools, MDMs are used to protect humans from outside interference. Yet, they are also similar: MDMs speak to our fears that our most valuable assets will be damaged in some way.

But there are other, better ways of allaying our fears and protecting our students. Rather than making it the responsibility of a piece of software, school communities need to be directly involved in establishing proper policies, practices and skills training. Not only is this a more effective approach, but it is also one which is more likely to result in the acquisition of long term skills.

Digital citizenship is as important a life skill as any other, and it shouldn't be outsourced to a piece of software.


Here's what I recommend instead:


The Best Ways to Keep Kids On-Task and Safe in a 1:1 Environment


The are ways to set up secure firewalls in schools to block dodgy adverts, malware and inappropriate sites. Firewalls are, of course, never going to be leak-proof, and they are in some ways similar to MDMs, but they are an important first step towards stemming the glut of filth and potentially harmful stuff that is out there.



Everyone is responsible for teaching kids how to filter out the muck online. It shouldn't just be the IT teacher, it should be all teachers; it shouldn't just be teachers, it should be the IT support team, school administrators and parents. We are all responsible for teaching kids how to use the Internet in a safe, responsible manner. The onus is on us to practice what we preach, and demonstrate sound digital citizenship practices ourselves.

And we should also be teaching kids that they too are responsible for staying on task, and for behaving appropriately when they are online.


Digital Citizenship

Every school must require of its students to complete a basic course in digital citizenship. Here are a few good resources:









Parents can and should manage the restrictions on their child's device. This is essentially what many MDMs do, but if students, parents and teachers are involved in doing this themselves, we can make students aware of why we are doing this, and have a continued discussion around digital citizenship.

Here's are two guides on how to set up restrictions on iPads and Android devices:

Setting up iPad restrictions

Setting up Android restrictions


Stay Informed

There are many ways to circumvent these measures. There are also new, potentially dangerous apps, services and software being released every day. It is essential that we as adults stay up-to-date on these and actively discourage their use. Here are some resources:

NetFamily News

Get NetWise

Common Sense Media

Granted, mobile device management systems can make all of this easier. But I am convinced that, like so much in education, easier is seldom better.



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