Universities' management are responsible for evaluating the feasibilities and establishing an effective strategy when adopting mobile computing. An assessment on the key elements, including people, policies and technology, should be performed to determine the necessity and approach of mobile computing implementation in university environment.
A university's transition to mobile computing relies on an effective integration of wireless technologies into a higher education environment with proper commitment from management.
To support and manage its educators and students in a mobile environment, management should perform a comprehensive analysis of the user profiles. The major elements that should be assessed by management include:
- Educational needs - the criticality, time sensitivity, and user expectations of education and research activities that will be shifted to a mobile environment. Do they require a real-time response? What is the value added of moving to a mobile environment?
- Access mode - management should find out the approaches and locations that users gain access to university's information systems and resources. What kind of mobile devices do they prefer? How many different locations are involved, and are those locations used repeatedly or occasionally?
- Usage patterns - management should consider how educators and students utilise mobile technologies to perform their tasks. The variety of tasks includes presentation, tutorial, peer mentoring, self-learning, documentation, research study and program scheduling.
As mobile devices and information services are increasingly used in combination, universities need a comprehensive set of policies to ensure consistency of information security management, compliance of relevant laws and regulations, and an optimized achievement of educational objectives for mobile initiatives.
Policies should address the following key questions:
- Who is an eligible mobile user?
- What are the user responsibilities?
- What technology is provided and supported?
- What level of access and services are provided and supported?
- Who buys or owns the mobile devices?
- Who pays for the support and maintenance?
Developing comprehensive mobile policies cannot be done in isolation. It is crucial to involve all university key stakeholders, including management, educational staff, IT security personnel and students.