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Guide to iPad Education Deployment in Schools

After deciding to use iPads in the classroom, start by developing a strategy for the iPad deployment. Base your deployment strategy on the number of iPads you want to introduce. Are you setting up a few iPads for teachers to try out, maybe anywhere from 20 up to 150 or so for a few classes to use — or a few hundred for an entire organization?

Deployments fit neatly into the following three categories.

For personal iPad deployment in schools, use iTunes

This personal deployment is thankfully the easiest and closest to the model being used by millions of iPad users around the world. Just set them up one by one with an Apple ID and an iTunes account. You can either share a school account or allow some users to manage their own.

Buy the apps, or tap the Purchased option in iTunes and download apps that have already been bought and made available to each device.

Synchronization and app upgrades are relatively easy. You can attach the device to a computer with iTunes and elect to have updates done wirelessly. Use iCloud, and documents and data can also be synchronized among your various devices.

It’s painless, quick, and gets you rolling quickly . . . even leaving you with a smile on your face!

For large iPad deployment in schools, use MDM solutions

Large-scale deployments are for entire organizations, schools, and school districts. The numbers can range from 150 iPads up to many thousands. To clarify what may be obvious, if you aren’t an IT professional, run screaming . . . now.

You stayed, so you must want to know more. For large-scale deployments, you need a system that enables centralized control over the management of large numbers of devices. Those solutions fall under the category of what is generally called Mobile Device Management, or MDM solutions.

MDM software gives IT departments the capability to enroll devices in a centrally managed environment, wirelessly configure and update their settings, and even remotely wipe or lock managed devices. Several third-party MDM solutions are available for managing iOS devices. They communicate using the Apple Push Notification service to wake up enrolled devices and check in with the MDM server to retrieve pending actions or queries.

If you Google MDM management of iOS devices, you’ll get a comprehensive list of options that you can evaluate. Just make sure you give it to the right IT professional.

For small to midsize iPad deployment in schools, use Apple Configurator

The small to midsize deployment is characterized by anywhere from 10 to 150 iPads, and it could be for a small school, a pilot program, or individual classes.

Apple has made important strides in enabling the management of smaller deployments without the need for dedicated IT involvement. It does still require a fair amount of reading and training, but it’s definitely possible to manage your small deployment of a class set of iPads.

Your best option is using a free tool from Apple called Apple Configurator. Use Configurator to set up new devices, install apps, and manage individual settings. It’s a perfect solution for classrooms or smaller deployments, especially because settings, apps, and policies change so rapidly.

You can use Apple Configurator to assign devices to specific users and personalize them with data and documents.

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Apple Configurator works on your laptop or desktop and can be downloaded from the Mac App Store. It uses three simple workflows to prepare new iOS devices for distribution, supervise device configurations, and assign those devices to users.

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