Preparing iPad for our younger students

Photo by Patricia Prudente on Unsplash

As we enter into the fall of 2021 and look forward to the 2021–22 school year, I have been looking at ways to prepare devices and deploy them to our students.

Due to the fact we are hoping beyond hope this school year will allow in-person teaching and learning, we also need to be prepared for a time when a student or classes may need to be remote for a period of time. Having a device in each student’s hand allows for a lot of flexibility and a very quick pivot if needed to change the learning and teaching process.

At this time, we are using Apple School Manager to support the enrollment of the devices which is connected to JAMF School to configure and manage the devices. I have also found that as a school that uses Apple devices, invests in AppleCare+ and we are certified for repairs and access to Apple’s GSX system, we can open a case with Apple for a broken device, ship it in and upon return of the replacement device, the adjustments of “old iPad” and “new iPad” are applied on Apple’s backend (after a GSX case is CLOSED) and quick re-deployment of the new device as needed.

The process I have been using when deploying (or re-deploying) devices are using the following steps (this seems to be working for me — suggestions or recommendations, let me know).

  • I am able to export a list of current students from our student information system (using a file export or an API) and bring it into Google Sheets.
  • Apple Configurator 2 restores and updates the device to the latest iPadOS version (using a USB-C 4-port splitter allows me to download the restore file one time to my laptop and then restore sets of 4 iPads at a time).
  • I scan the asset tag (which we have on all our current devices) into a Google Sheet and line it up with a student name. I also use the student name to CONCATENATE a device name (Grad year, First Name, Last Name, and iPad).
  • Using another API, I verify the serial number from the Asset Tag information (we are using JAMF Pro, JAMF School, and IncidentIQ for device management and support). This allows me to define a few key unique fields to quickly and accurately assign devices. It also allows me to not try to read that VERY SMALL serial number on the back of an iPad — I’m too old for that.
  • With all of the above data, I am able to quickly generate a list that can be imported into JAMF School. The CSV export includes the device name, the owner name, the serial number, and any groups (Class of 2030) that are then imported into JAMF School users.
  • The last step is actually powering on the iPad, connecting it to the WiFi, and allowing the profile and settings to be applied.
  • With SMART Groups, the name of the device (Grad Year), the iPad applies any applications that need to be installed and begins the process.
  • Lastly, printing a label for the iPad allow the students to easily see which device is “theirs” and verify users and device counts.

I continue to look at ways I can streamline this further using APIs and schedules to just keep pulling the data together and then leveraging a POST or PUT API call, update data even more effectively.

Questions or suggestions, let me know!

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Technology professional

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Scott Adamson

Scott Adamson

Technology professional

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