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4 ways Apple may soon solve the iPad deployment headache

By Sam Gliksman
April 8th, 2015

It’s no secret iPad deployments are a slog for schools. But all that may be changing

ipad-deploymentThe ultimate goal of technology deployment is for device use to become “invisible,” where students create and communicate with their devices as easily as they might pick up a pen.

That goal unfortunately remains a distant vision for most schools regardless of the technology students are using. Device deployment has been a particular challenge for schools with iPads. In fact it’s been such a headache that iPad sales into schools have started to lose momentum over the last year. Apple has taken steps recently to make device management somewhat simpler and rumors are circulating that significant changes might be on the way in the next year.

The iPad is built upon the same building blocks that made the iPhone so successful. It’s a personal device that requires an Apple ID for access to iTunes, apps, and eBooks. I’m not sure that anyone anticipated the enormous success iPads would have in schools. Educators viewed them as devices that were mobile, could deliver eBooks, manage online course content, and had powerful built-in media tools for creative inspiration. However, from a management perspective, they were designed for individual use and didn’t come with a simple, effective strategy for institutional deployment.

Apple has been slow to react to the management needs of schools. The recommended model for iPad use in schools is what Apple calls the “institution owned one-to-one” deployment. Each student and staff member is assigned a device that’s purchased, configured, and managed by their institution. A mobile device management (MDM) solution simplifies the setup and management of devices. Apple’s Device Enrollment Program registers devices with the institution’s MDM so that devices can then be configured and rolled out efficiently. In our ideal scenario, each student has an Apple ID. Each iPad is handed to a student or staff member and the MDM configures the iPad wirelessly with accounts, settings, restrictions, and content. Content is backed up to a personal iCloud account where it can be accessed offsite at any time. It’s a lengthy process but manageable when everything goes smoothly… except for the fact that “ideal scenarios” are very rarely ideal.

Here’s a rundown of four areas where many deployments fall short and where policies need to change.

Next page: Simplifying device management