Almost two years ago to the day, I wrote a post, “The iPad: Why Teachers Should Care.” Flash forward to today, both of the schools I work at have purchased one iPad for each classroom. Although I’ve already mastered how to manage all the iDevices in my personal household, learning to manage iPads in an institutional environment involved a bit more learning due to the complexities of software licensing and the necessity to keep institutional accounts separate from personal ones.
School Accounts You’ll Need:
1. A generic e-mail address. You can use a school’s generic e-mail address. However, I would not use any employee’s e-mail address since it’s impossible to guarantee that any employee will be at a particular school forever. This is part of the not mixing institution and business accounts. I signed up for a generic e-mail address with gmail.
2. An Apple ID account associated with the generic e-mail address you set up. Create this account without associating a credit card with the account (unless your school uses a credit card to make purchases). This will be your school’s iTunes account for all practical purposes. It will be used for purchasing free apps and redeeming codes purchased using your Volume Purchase Account (see below).
3. A Volume Purchase Account (VPP). This is the account in which you deposit iTunes gift cards and then purchase apps in bulk. If you’re in a large district, your district likely already has a program manager. You need to ask that person to set you up as a program facilitator. If you try to sign up without that person, you’ll get an error through the Apple web site.
To repeat, you deposit gift cards into the VPP account and then redeem the download codes you receive through your school’s Apple ID. Unlike at home, where you can legally install purchased apps on all your devices after buying them just once, at school you need to purchase the app as many times as there are devices. However, they are often offered at a 50% discount when you buy 20 or more.
Although you buy 20 codes, you really only redeem one of the codes. The other 19 codes are saved in case your school is ever audited for legal compliance.
We do not share any of the passwords for these accounts with the teachers at our school. Teachers will receive updates to school apps and new apps we’ve purchased for the school periodically.
Personal Accounts You Should and Shouldn’t Use
Some schools do not allow teachers to install their own apps on the school iPads. Teachers at those restrictive schools may come to feel like the iPad is not their own. I opted to allow teachers at my schools to install apps from their personal accounts on their iPads. I want them to feel like the iPads belong to them and for them to become experts at using the devices.
Individually Purchased Apps
Teachers can simply log out of the school account and log in to their own account to install apps they’ve previously purchased or purchase new apps. It’s less expensive for a teacher to purchase a single app than for the school to buy twenty-four copies of it.
FaceTime and iMessages
Teachers should immediately log out of the school’s FaceTime and iMessages account under their respective tabs in settings. Teachers can either log in using their own accounts or stay logged out. Otherwise, iMessages sent by a single teacher will automatically appear on everyone’s iPad.
Teachers may wish to log-in to iCloud and choose which services they wish to use (e-mail, iTunes match, photo stream, contacts, calendar, etc.) They don’t have to enable all of them but will likely want to use some of them.
Find My iPhone
Since we expect each teacher to take responsibility for not losing their iPads, I strongly encourage teachers to install the Find My iPhone app and use it to track the iPad should it ever be lost.
Setting Up the iPads
I purchased approximately 40 free apps and installed them on an iPad (more on what those are later), organizing the apps in folders by subject matter so that teachers feel more comfortable exploring even if they don’t know what the apps are. I then set up each subsequent iPad to restore from the original iPad’s backup. This ensures that each iPad begins with some structure and organization even if future apps will not necessarily end up in the correct folders automatically.
What’s in a Name?
At my science magnet, we named the iPads after famous scientists and at the arts magnet we named them after famous painters. Naming the iPads allows us to keep track of them easily. Naming them after teachers or room numbers would be a mistake since both of those things can/will change over time.
I then connected each iPad to the school’s wireless network.
On a sign-out sheet, teachers sign their names next to their iPads name and serial number.
Teachers put their own Smart Covers on their iPads.
I’m very grateful for the following two posts which helped me immensely in the process:
Langwitches: iPad Deployment and Teacher PD
LAUSD iPad Deployment Worksheet (do not e-mail the people linked to from this worksheet unless you’re in LAUSD)
Once teachers have added their own apps to an iPad and you go to sync it with the school computer you will see a notice asking you if you want to authorize the computer for the new apps. Don’t authorize! You will get a scary warning that appears to indicate that the “unauthorized” apps will be removed from the iPad. However, they will not actually be removed. Go ahead and hit continue. Don’t be afraid.
Apple has released a white paper on iPad deployment that’s worth reading.