RM Buzz from RM Education

The switch from on-premises IT provision to the cloud has unleashed a host of positive developments in education. The reduced total cost of ownership is just the beginning. Rapid deployment of new teaching content and applications, as well as built-in collaboration with ubiquitous devices, can herald new ways of teaching and free the educational experience from being tied so closely to the classroom. But with great possibilities also come potential threats. An internet-connected device opens up an online world with many unwanted destinations alongside the amazing potential it provides.

This is why an experienced, specialist partner is imperative for any school. RM Education has been in the business for more than 40 years and, as with many companies that have addressed the education market for a long time, was originally focused on supplying hardware and infrastructure. The company has more recently refocused on the cloud and ceased producing computers, partnering with suppliers such as HP for the hardware side, since HP provides a full range of offerings for a cloud-based education service, including robust and durable Google Chromebooks. These devices are so reasonably priced that every student can potentially have one, and the school IT experience can extend well beyond the school walls.

RM has a specific service in its portfolio to combat the dangers found online when devices go outside the school premises, which can tailor the protection entirely to the user. Called RM Buzz, this integrates with G Suite for Education and Chrome devices to provide filtering that follows the user and their device wherever they go. Traditional on-premises IT protects students when they are physically within the confines of the school. A product such as RM SafetyNet can do a brilliant job of keeping students safe when they're logged in to a school's own IT system, but increasingly students are working at home or at other locations, where these protections can't be implemented with traditional IT.

In an ecosystem of Chromebooks, the educational IT provision can follow the students wherever they go, and with RM Buzz, so can the filtering that keeps their online experience safe. The level of filtering depends on the login details used, so can be tailored to the user rather than the device itself. Different levels of protection can be defined depending on the year group of the student in question, as well, with younger children facing more restrictions than older ones, for example.

The user database can be synchronised into RM Buzz from multiple sources, including RM Unify and G Suite for Education. The filtering can cover both website URLs and content, allowing the restriction of adult and extremist material. Time-based rules can be implemented, too, so that only educational destinations are available during school hours, but the restrictions are loosened when the student and device are at home. The level of centralised control means that IT staff don't need to waste time setting up protection on a device-by-device basis, so they can be released to perform other important tasks instead.

RM Buzz works seamlessly with RM Education's other products, including RM Unify and RM Integris. RM Unify provides single sign-on access to a suite of cloud-based applications and services, so that the system administrator can ensure students have everything they need for the assignments set by their teachers. Aiding this is RM Integris, a completely integrated management information system that brings attendance, behaviour, assessment, target setting and progress reports together into one place. It can be used for class groups and parental logins as well, so that parents can track their children's progress, keep abreast of their offspring's homework assignments, and provide funds for school meals and extras such as trips.

The RM Unify system provides a single Launch Pad to G Suite for Education, but also Microsoft Office 365 and other content, such as Encyclopaedia Britannica School. Students don't need to remember a host of login details for all the different services they can access through RM Unify. Once they've signed in to RM Unify, all these systems will be available, with Unify handling all the credentials required for each one. With a browser-based interface, RM Unify will work with the existing fixed school IT infrastructure, such as desktops in school computer rooms, but also mobile devices including Chromebooks and potentially even a student's own devices.

RM Buzz adds the extra security on the top. RM Unify gives school students what the school is providing for them such as software to use on assignments, content and resources, but it doesn't necessarily define what they can't do with their school-issued device. This is where RM Buzz enhances the system, ensuring everything they have access to with school devices is appropriate.

A free eight-week trial of RM Buzz is available at http://www.rm.com/products/online-safety-tools/rm-safetynet/buzz. The product is currently only compatible with Google devices, but will be rolled out for Windows devices in the near future. The benefits from moving school IT services over to the cloud are clear, and a significant percentage of schools have already made the switch. With RM Buzz from RM Education, those benefits can be had with the dangers kept at bay.

Picture: Bigstock

James Morris

Dr James Morris has worked as a technology journalist for over 25 years, including spending nine years on the staff of market-leading computer magazine PC Pro, the last five of which were as the publication’s editor. He specialises in enterprise-grade software and hardware, with a particular focus on content creation. He launched a pioneering video channel for HEXUS.net in 2006 and ran the video reviews channel for TrustedReviews.com for four years. He also runs a successful online digital content and commercial video production company, t-zero communications Ltd.

Dr Morris is a prolific technology writer and contributes commercial content for major IT brands including AMD, BlackBerry, Dell, Cognizant, HP, and IBM. He published a book on artificial intelligence, Can Computers Create Art? in 2009. He is also an academic, and is currently Pathway Director of the MA, Interactive Journalism at City, University of London.

Previously, he was course leader for the BA in Web Media Production at Ravensbourne University. He has a PhD in Philosophy, Art and Social Thought from the European Graduate School in Switzerland, a Master's in Media Arts from the New School in New York, USA, and a Bachelor's in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics.

Dr. Morris can be found on Twitter at @Cyberwest, or emailed at j@tzero.co.uk