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.

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