Education-Specific MDM Helps District Scale iPad Implementation
A new superintendent called for a reconsideration of Manhattan-Ogden USD 383’s technology goals. In order to move toward a 1:1 future, the district needed to adopt a centralized mobile device management system. The district’s use of Apple Configurator and the management of more than 60 VPP (Apple’s Volume Purchase Program) accounts were unwieldy and inefficient. Implementing TechPilot not only provides more efficient management of devices, it also allows teachers to customize the apps available to their students and enables IT to scale efficiently to a much larger deployment of iPads.
Manhattan-Ogden USD 383’s IT team currently supports more than 5,000 desktops, laptops, iPads, and peripheral devices. Specific technology goals include:
1. Increasing student achievement through the effective use of technology.
2. Progressing toward full integration of technology into the curriculum.
3. Improving the capacity of teachers to integrate technology effectively into their curriculum and instruction.
To meet these goals, individual schools had been funding and ordering their own devices as well as setting up more than 60 Apple VPP accounts. The district had been using Apple Configurator to manage the devices and apps, but the increasing volume of iPads and the need to configure each device separately had become unwieldy and inefficient.
“When individual buildings raised money, either through grants or other funding sources, they bought their own devices,” says Lucas Loughmiller, Director of Library and Instructional Media Services. “As the numbers of iPads grew, we learned that Apple Configurator could no longer manage the growing number of iPads and apps. We were spending hours updating iPads and TechPilot provided the ideal solution.”
The district currently has approximately one device for every five students. Most of them are housed on carts. Administrators wanted to begin moving to 1:1 on a rolling basis and knew it was essential to adopt a mobile device management system in order to move forward toward their goal.
INTEGRATING TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CURRICULUM
Loughmiller and his colleague Duke Harmon, a STEM Instructional Technology Coordinator, have become “iPad central” in the district, although neither one of them is in the technology department. However, they work closely with the technology department, as well as with the teaching and learning department, so they have an appreciation for the challenges of choosing the best instructional technology and also understand the need to help teachers implement the technology into their curriculum. In fact, Harmon spends much of his time teaching students how to use the devices and coaches teachers on how to integrate the technology into their instruction.
So many individual teachers purchased apps with their own money that a cart in an elementary school might have apps from a variety of teachers and multiple VPP accounts. And, of course, every iPad had to be configured separately. It was clear that before the district could expand their use of iPads, they needed to find an MDM solution to centralize the management of their devices as well as the 60+ VPP accounts. In order to meet the goal of “progressing toward full integration of technology into the curriculum,” the district needed a stronger foundation from which to increase significantly the number of devices available to students.
CUSTOMIZING APPS ON SHARED DEVICES
Some apps take up a lot of device storage space. This can be a real concern for shared devices. One of TechPilot’s new features solves this problem. The ninth-grade biology teachers wanted about 15 biology apps on the iPads. Instead of installing all of these apps, the TechPilot Locker app provides a “selfservice” option, allowing apps to be installed only when needed and removed afterwards. TechPilot also allows teachers to define which installed apps are visible during their classes. So an English teacher doesn’t have to wade through all the biology apps when it’s her class’s turn to use the iPads. These features not only save storage space on the iPads but also save time getting to work because students don’t have to scroll through long lists of apps on the devices.
“In a shared devices environment, the ability to customize by showing or hiding apps is key for happy campers,” says Loughmiller.
Once the district chose TechPilot, they moved quickly to implement it. Although they are not committed to a final 1:1 date—they haven’t decided on the best device for high school, for example—district leaders believe they can now manage what they have more effectively and have a solid foundation on which to build their 1:1. The district will roll out 600 iPads in January and another 600 by the end of the school year. “We will reach our 1:1 goals faster with TechPilot than without,” says Loughmiller. “The ease of use and the amount of service we’ve received have made it much easier for us to ramp up.”