After a busy, exciting and productive year using iPads to enhance teaching, learning and assessment, I thought now was a good time to reflect on our management and deployment strategy for the devices. I have seen many posts about how others manage and deploy iOS devices, and it’s something that we get regularly asked about when discussing the project with colleagues from other institutions. So here’s our take on it…
When we started the project back in July 2012, one of our biggest concerns was how we could streamline the process of charging, syncing and installing apps on the devices. The diagram below highlights the processes, the technology and the software utilised to successfully manage and deploy the devices.
Due to the nature of the project (the iPads being centrally located and loaned to tutors to be used in the classroom) we adopted Apples Institutional model for the management and deployment of iOS devices. Apple has three ownership models for the management and deployment of iOS devices, these are personal ownership, institutional ownership and layered ownership.
By adopting the institutional ownership model it meant that we had control over, and the responsibility of managing, the devices. Although, this option is more resource intensive it allowed us to configure the devices to the needs of the particular student or learning activity. It also means that the institution retains the ownership for purchased apps and content.
For more information on the management and deployment options for iOS devices see Apple’s educational deployment guide: http://images.apple.com/education/docs/ios_6_education_deployment_guide.pdf
To charge and securely store the iPads we purchased a Bretford PowerSync cart. The cart can store and charge up to 30 devices. The PowerSync Cart connects to a MacBook Pro allowing us to configure, sync and update the devices using a piece of software called Apple Configurator.
The Apple Configurator software enables us to configure profiles and install apps on multiple devices simultaneously. One advantage of using the Apple Configurator software is the ability to create and install configured profiles on each iPad. Installing profiles on each of the devices enables you to restrict access to certain iPad settings such as disabling app purchases and the ability to delete apps. Both of which are important when you are using the devices with students in the classroom.The one downside to the Apple Configurator software is that is can only be used on an Apple machine (laptop or desktop).
The final piece of the jigsaw is Apple’s Education Volume Purchasing Program (VPP). The Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) enables institutions to purchase apps (in quantities of 20+) at discounted rates. App developers have the option to make their app available at a reduced rate (up to 50% off) for educational institutions. All but one of the apps we have purchased for use at York St John University have been purchased with 50% discount.
The flexibility of the VPP structure means that different departments/facilities/classrooms in the institution can be in control of their own devices. This means they don’t have to be managed centrally by the IT department.
As you can see from the diagram at YSJU, the VPP is managed by Information Learning Services – they are the Program Managers for the institution. Learning and Teaching Development (the team running the iPad Project) are a Program Facilitator – this role allows us to manage our devices and purchase apps and content for them. This approach can be rolled out to other faculties within the institution should they wish to purchase their own devices.
In order to install apps on the iPads that have been purchased through the VPP you must use Apple Configurator. When applications are purchased through the VPP you get presented with a spreadsheet of licence codes that are loaded into the Apple configurator software. This validates that you can install the paid for app on your devices.
Top tips for managing and deploying iPads
- Tip 1: Choose you ownership model wisely – remember the institutional ownership model gives the control and the responsibility of the devices but it is more resource intensive.
- Tip 2: Use the Apple Configurator software to disable applications and features that could distract the students from the learning activity. I would recommend disabling the camera if the students are not required to use it.
- Tip 3: Use the Apple Configurator to give each iPad a name – create a naming convention (i.e. our is YSJ for York St John University, LTD for Learning and Teaching Development and then the number it’s assigned during the configuration process: YSJLTD01, YSJLTD02) this will help keep track of the devices and the applications installed on them.
- Tip 4: Sign-up up to Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program to purchase apps (in quantities of 20+) at a discounted rate. Remember though not all apps are discounted as discount is at the app developers discretion.
- Tip 5: Develop a core bank of applications – these applications will be permanently installed on the devices. This can save time meaning you don’t have to update devices as regularly. Here’s our list of core applications:
- Tip 6: Set aside a couple of hours each week to update and install new apps on the devices. We set aside two hours a week on a Tuesday morning to update the devices – requests for the installation of new apps must be received by the close of play Monday.
- Tip 7: In the first teaching session, set aside time for the students to explore the devices and its features.