The Madeira department of education is responsible for student success across the Madeira archipelago, located some 540 nautical miles southwest of Spain and Portugal. The district has 42,000 students in 112 schools grades K-12, supported by a dedicated force of 6,300 teachers. Attendance is required between the ages of 6 until age of 16, and some schools run both a morning and afternoon shift to meet demand.
The department of education on the archipelago of Madeira is responsible for helping 42,000 students in more than 100 schools achieve their potential. The government wanted to understand whether access to modern educational tools would increase student motivation and in-class interaction.
After a successful year-long pilot in one classroom, Madeira launched a system-wide program with fifth-year students. The government decided to start with that age group partly because they judged them old enough to take responsibility for a tablet and stylus. Another reason is that beginning in the fifth year, Madeira students require multiple textbooks that they would otherwise need to carry from home — often across a hilly island terrain — and from class to class.
The department determined that the tablets could replace multiple textbooks, save paper, and eliminate the need for 10-year-old children to carry heavy backpacks.
The Madeira department of education drew up a list of requirements for the solution. It wanted tablets to come with a stylus so that students could continue practicing handwriting. It wanted to protect student data and secure devices against theft or loss. And it wanted to ensure students used the tablets only for studies both in school and outside the school. Some teachers were concerned that students might use the tablets for games and other distracting activity.
The challenge was to find the balance between providing students opportunities for exploration and preventing potential problems. While teachers could help correct distracting activity at school, the larger concern was how to make sure that nobody could use the tablets outside of school for anything other than study purposes.
Finally, because some schools lacked IT resources, the program required centralized management and remote support capabilities. The government knew it needed the right partner for its initiative.
The department chose Samsung for multiple reasons. Samsung tablets were certified for use in education by the country’s leading educational publisher, worked with an S-pen stylus, and could be provisioned and managed remotely using the Knox Manage solution.
Different usage profiles for in school and out of school. The Samsung end-to-end solution enables the government to ensure the tablets are used only for educational purposes both in and outside school. Knox Manage makes sure tablet WiFi and GPS capabilities are always on, for fast connection to the school Internet, plus location-tracking capabilities.
All tablets are set up with two profiles, which means the tablets function differently based on whether the user is connected to school WiFi or elsewhere. By maintaining an in-school blocklist, the department opens up learning opportunities while blocking access to specific websites and apps that are against school policy. At home, an allowlist restricts usage to only apps and websites that are on a pre- approved list, to prevent misuse and focus the students on work.
“Samsung Knox is the key to the security of our program. We can protect children’s education by blocking access to unwanted sites and platforms when they are away from class,” says Luis Gaspar, who coordinates the project for the Regional Department of Education.
Easy deployment. Knox Manage helps the government build excitement while simplifying tablet staging. Each student receives a new, boxed tablets with stylus. The student opens the box and connects the tablet to school WiFi. Once connected, Knox Manage recognizes the tablet assigned to the student—based on a previous barcode scan—and preloads all controls and apps based on the dual profiles and policies. The teachers report that the unboxing process contributes to the students’ sense of ownership and responsibility.
Simplified support. The schools are able to control, update, and support thousands of tablets remotely with Knox Manage. Using its remote-support capabilities, the central IT team helps support schools around the islands who lack IT staff. They can reset passwords and troubleshoot other issues as if they were holding the tablet. Knox Manage also helps ensure that devices are protected against theft or loss and that student data is secure, by locking or executing a factory reset remotely.
Samsung Knox is the key to the security of our program. We can protect children’s education by blocking access to unwanted sites and platforms when they are away from class.
Madeira schools now offer a modern digital experience that makes learning more enjoyable and productive. The program is considered a success by the Madeira government, teachers, students, and parents.
Improved student motivation. Teachers report that the tablet solution is a motivating force for students. Fifth-year students are justifiably proud of their tablets and thus are more likely to use them. Teachers report that students who previously might have forgotten to bring in a textbook always remember their tablets. Interactive activities make learning more fun, and students can see their own quiz scores and measure their success more easily.
Increased in-class interaction. Teachers report that students are excited to contribute what they learn when they use the tablets to instantly research assigned topics. To drive discussions, some Madeira schools also reoriented fifth-year classrooms from rows of desks to a large U shape.
New learning capabilities. The tablets open up new ways to learn, and students are self-motivated to use them all. Music students use the interactive music games to help them practice on recorders. Using the S pens help students build handwriting and drawing skills while having fun. Teachers report that students use the tablets to look up vocabulary words and practice pronunciations on their own. And if a student needs to review digital texts from a previous year, teachers can enable access.
There's a real health benefit as well. "Students are telling me it’s easier to go to school because the backpacks are not as heavy," says Armando Morgado, director of the Caniço school, one of the largest on the island. "This is important especially if parents don’t drive them to school."
The Madeira government intends that the students continue to use their tablets during subsequent school years. And next year in schools across Madeira, new fifth-year students will excitedly open boxes to find new tablets customized for their use. For each child, this marks the start of their digital educational journey.