Here’s How iOS 7 Promises to Make iPad Management Easier for Schools

Students reading an ebook on an iPad

Apple’s engineers are working hard towards meeting their Fall 2013 release date for iOS 7. However, their PR department is also working hard to ensure that educators know the full extent of the changes that are coming, and how they will impact iPad management in the classroom. The full list of changes can be found here, but I discuss some of my favorites below and share why they are a good move for Apple to make…especially in light of the forthcoming Android Google Play for Education Store.

1. So, first up, App Store license management:

The App Store Volume Purchase Program now offers institutions the ability to assign apps to users while keeping full ownership and control over app licenses…Apps can be revoked at any time and reassigned to other students.

This makes so much sense and will save a lot of headaches. 99 times out of 100, the school is buying apps for students, so it makes sense that they should have more control over their purchases. With any luck, this will apply to previous purchases too. There are scant few details to support what I am about to say, but it sounds like students could use their own Apple IDs on the device, schools could push apps out to the student device, and recall them when they graduate or no longer need them. No more hassles about which account an app is installed on (school Apple ID vs. personal Apple ID) because schools will have more control over the apps they purchase. Now if only this would apply to the iBooks Store too! I can dream, right? 🙂

In addition to iOS apps, VPP now also supports the purchase of Mac apps and even books, so students can be provided all the tools they need to get their work done.

How long has it taken to get a system together to allow the bulk purchase of Mac apps? A seriously LONG time is the answer, but I am glad that it has finally arrived and that educators can now take advantage of this, as well as iBooks Store purchases, through the VPP store.

2. Next, new options for MDM clients and how they interact with the iPad:

Teachers can remotely lock or unlock iOS devices into a specific app, such as an assessment app, ensuring that all students are on the same activity at the same time.

Love it. I mean you can do this in Apple Configurator right now if you plug the iPads into a sync station to activate it, and you can mimic the same effect with Guided Access, but the ability to do this remotely to multiple devices at once could be a great time saver…but I suspect it might make the Tech Director’s job a little busier! 🙂

With automatic device configuration, new devices purchased by a school can be wirelessly enrolled into their MDM system during setup. In addition, new devices can be placed wirelessly in supervised mode, which enables enhanced management options.

If you’ve ever set up more than 10 iPads before, you will quickly appreciate any further automation that Apple can provide via an MDM solution.

3. A new addition in iOS 7 is AirDrop:

AirDrop allows users to transfer photos, videos, or documents between iOS devices making it easy for teachers and students to collaborate. Users just tap the Share icon within an app and select the person they want to share with. AirDrop does the rest using Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Transfers are encrypted, so all their work is highly secure.”

If you have used Instashare in the classroom, and have been longing for Apple to include this as a native sharing option on the iPad, then AirDrop may just be exactly what you are looking for. However, be prepared. If you are using iPad 1s, 2s or even 3s, you look set to be disappointed. AirDrop will only be available for the iPad Mini and the 4th generation iPad and later.

4. Finally, Apple are offering Apple IDs to students of all ages:

Students with Apple ID can have an enhanced personal experience with access to great online services like iTunes U, iCloud backup, and the ability to receive licenses in the new Volume Purchase Program. And now schools will have a program to facilitate Apple obtaining verifiable parental consent for personal Apple IDs for students under age 13.

Not sure how I feel about this one yet, but if you couple it with the new App Store license changes, I could see the potential here to make further efficiency improvements with regards to Apple IDs. After all, a good many Google Apps for Education schools already issue Google accounts to students under 13 in a similar way.

So, which of these changes are you most excited about? Is this enough for you, or were you expecting more? Which ones were you hoping for that did not get added to iOS 7? Feel free to leave a comment below.

iPad Deployments: A Blueprint for Success at #iste13

Today I presented a session at ISTE with Stacy Behmer (@sbehmer) that outlined some of the best, and worst, ways to deploy iPads in an educational setting. In many ways, the deployment of a large number of iPads is no different to any other device, but it does have some unique challenges for educators, so we wanted to help draw attention to this and offer up the benefit of our own experiences.

iPad Deployments: A Blueprint for Success

At Grant Wood AEA we deployed over 300 iPads to our direct service providers and administrative staff, but we also worked with a large number of our districts to help them implement 1:1 and shared carts of iPads. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. The iPad is an awesome device for education, but from a management point of view, it leaves a lot to be desired. They were just not designed for the classroom, and Apple has yet to provide a really useful solution to that, but there are definitely some things you can do to make that process easier, and that was the focus of our presentation.

So, if you were at #iste13 today, and you want to get your hands on a copy of our slides, you can find them right here. And, even if you were #notatiste, you are welcome to take a look and see the kind of things we were talking about today.

Do you have a tip for schools looking to rollout iPads in their school district? What would be your recommendation for educators who are about to embark on an iPad pilot? Leave a comment below.

The Paperless iPad Classroom with the Google Drive App

Google Drive

Have you read The Paperless Classroom with Google Docs by Eric Curts? If not, you should. It is a great way for Google schools to harness the power of Google for sharing documents, and establishing a workflow for students to turn in work for teachers to grade and return in a paperless environment. I love it. In fact, I liked it so much that I decided to pay homage to it with a version that is dedicated to doing the very same thing on the iPad using just the Google Drive app.

Regular readers will have seen my last post, How to Use Comments on the Google Drive iPad app. For me, this was a key change to the Google Drive iPad app, and one that had huge implications for the iPad classroom. It inspired me to think about just how much you can do in Google with an iPad and the Drive app, and I soon discovered that you can do a lot more than you might think.

So, with the blessing of Eric Curts himself, I sat down and went through all the steps he meticulously outlined for the desktop version of Google Drive, and converted as many as I could to the equivalent actions in the Google Drive iPad app. Then I added some additional steps for other things like taking documents offline, or grading PDFs, images and movies.

I realize that a lot of what Eric Curts lays out in his original document can already be done on the iPad by switching to Desktop mode, but this environment it is just not optimized for the iPad and can be clumsy at best. It can be done, of course it can, but if you can do what you need to do in the Drive app, the chances are you high that you will have a less frustrating experience.

I hope, therefore, that these ideas will be useful for Google schools that use iPads in the classroom. It is a first draft, so I welcome all comments or suggestions on how to update or improve this for other educators, and as updates are made to the app, I will endeavor to update this document accordingly. You can see the finished product here: The Paperless iPad Classroom with the Google Drive App.

How to Use Comments on the Google Drive iPad App

I’ve spent a few days playing with a great new addition to the Google Drive iPad app – comments! They can be used to share ideas with other collaborators or as a way of grading student work. So, if you haven’t had time to try them out yet, here’s how they work.

Add Comments Google Drive iPad App

  1. To insert a comment, tap in the document to leave a general comment, or select the specific words that you want the comment to be linked to by pressing and holding to select text.
  2. Next tap the comment button next to the title of the document at the top of your screen, or select “Comment” from the pop-up box above selected text.
  3. A comment box will appear in the top right hand corner, where you can type in your comment.
  4. This comment will now be visible to others who share the document (such as your collaborators or the student who turned in the assignment) although the comment(s) will not display when the document is printed.
  5. Collaborators (students, you, etc.) can reply to any comment by typing in the box labeled “Reply to this comment…”
  6. You can also tap the pencil to “Edit” your existing comment, or to “Delete” it.
  7. Finally you can tap “Resolve” to close the comment from further replies.

Google Drive iPad Comments

Are you using Google Drive on your Android phone or tablet? If so, you’ll be glad to know that comments work there too and you should be able to follow the instructions above to get them to work almost exactly the same way on those devices.