Exploring the use of iPads and mobile devices in education.
Has anybody used the new tool called Apple Configurator?
I've downloaded it, but haven't had a chance to look at it yet. This is what it's for:
Apple Configurator makes it easy for anyone to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution.
Not sure if it can also update all those apps that keep needing to be updated which is a daily chore.
Here in NYC, our Apple rep demonstrated this app. It is awesome! Our school does not have a large enough number of iPads to make this viable.... but it does look cool!
The pros: you can create an image of the perfect iPad and when a student returns the iPad after use, all data is synced back to the original. But...... the student's work can be saved on iCloud and will not be lost. Also..... you can assign a particular iPad to a person (and include a photo of them on the lock screen). You can have the saved iCloud data follow the user, creating a portfolio of a persons work.
What does this remind me of? AtEase. Remember apple's old software where you could remotely manage all of your Mac desktops from your teacher's station?!?!
There was more stuff demoed but I cannot remember it all.. I am too excited playing with my new iPad(3-HD) right now!!!
I am intersted in hearing from others that have used this App as well. How does it compare to the other solutions out there?
My understanding is that You have to run it on a Mac device with Lion.
What about Absolute or Casper for MDM? Anyone using those tools?Pros/Cons?
Apple Configurator is a good tool to use in conjunction with an MDM. We've been testing with a few MDMs such as Casper and Meraki Systems Manager (which is free). With Configurator, you can install apps, set restrictions, and better manage your group of iPads. Excellent for a cart of iPads. The MDM does a great job of inventory and OTA management of iPads. Configurator and an MDM work together...one wouldn't replace the other
Here are some Apple Configurator resources:
Video: http://www.apple.com/education/resources/videos/#introduction-to-apple-configura tor
Help Pages: http://help.apple.com/configurator/mac/1.0/
Last year, we ran an iPad pilot in the 8th grade, we synced iPads via USB to a laptop and iTunes in each homeroom. It was a cheap entry point and there were not many other alternatives last year. It was a slow, clunky and required coordination to keep all the apps updated in iTunes in each homeroom.
This year, we expanded the iPad 1-to-1 program to the 7th and 8th grade, but this year we were blessed with the existence of the Apple Configurator (AC), MDM's and wireless syncing. Cloning the iPad's via iTunes last year was slooooow, and it's much, much faster via Apple Configurator. I cloned 22-23 iPads at a time this year, in minutes, where cloning last year via iTunes, I cloned maybe 2-3 at a time and it took longer.
I agree with Joe Y, Apple Configurator (AC) is a good tool to use with an MDM. It does need to run on a Mac with Lion or better, and AC requires USB attachment of the iPads, so you need USB hubs for attaching multiple iPads at once. I bought 2 - 12 port USB hubs for this task. (Also, consider buying extra USB-iPad cables. I bought the hubs and cables via Monoprice. Good prices and it got the job done.) I used AC this year to "supervise" our student iPads before deployment, primarily to set the WIFI password for our school network via a profile and prevent the iPads from being synced to a computer with iTunes.
After this was done, we enrolled the iPads via WiFi into Casper, our MDM, for management and deployment of paid apps. We wanted to get away from syncing to a computer via USB for app downloads and updates, etc. It was a real bottleneck last year, as I mentioned earlier. Each student now backs up their iPad via iCloud, and performs their own updates and downloads of free apps via WiFi. Paid apps are downloaded via Casper and must be initially downloaded at school, but are updated via WiFi after that. We encourage students to download updates and backup at home, if possible. Casper handles the management of the redemption codes purchased via the Apple VPP.
Apple also has three models of app deployment/ownership for IOS devices, a institutional model (app purchases are through school owned Apple ID's), a personal model (app purchases are with personal Apple ID's) and a mixed model. Basically, it comes down to who ends up owning the apps. We were pure institutional last year, but went to a pure personal model this year. Which means our students end up owning the paid apps that we buy via the Apple VPP.
Casper is a great tool and it keeps getting better, but remember management tools for IOS devices are nowhere near as advanced as management tools for computers. I'd love to have an Apple Remote Desktop (ARD) for the iPad, maybe someday.
Hope this helps.
Yipes, sorry for the long post... One more thing, using Apple Configurator for management of iPads in a lab environment looks really cool. I'm curious how this is working out for people. I don't see the iPad's strength as "lab" computer, but more as a 1-to-1 device, I hope I'm wrong. I was imagining a classroom where you have back-to-back classes, can the lab set of iPads using Apple Configurator sync the first classes student data and restore the 2nd classes data without eating into class time.
I know Apple recently added more countries to VPP for businesses http://www.apple.com/business/vpp/ (click link and scroll down). I'm guessing that if they now have VPP for business in the UK they should have it for education too. Contact Apple and see...
Tom, Thanks for your post. Its always good to see how other districts are doing it. We've been using Casper for our OS X management so as we get into managing iOS devices I've been playing around with their MDM. I like it so far. I'm looking forward to going to the JAMF Nation User Conference next month to learn more about it.
I've been testing with a Bretford Card (holds 30 iPads) with a MacBook on top as my provisioning node running Apple Configurator. I also have a Griffin tower that holds 10 iPads here at my desk for testing. "Imaging" with AC is a lot better than with iTunes :)
Good luck everyone!
We love the apple configurator...it allows us to sync and manage all of our iPads with our cart (from Datamation Systems). Combined, they make syncing pretty easy