iPad Setup for Individual Classrooms Managed by the Teacher

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So, these are a lot of words but not a lot of time. Having to spell out each touch makes this seem like a lot but it’s really not. Total time, minus the actual App installs, is maybe 10 minutes.

iPads in a classroom are the new boardgames, (educational of coarse), and as teachers, you want to have control over what is played in your classroom and not rely on the IT Guy every time you come across an App you would like for your classroom.

This guide is how I tell my teachers to setup iPads so they become living machines. Changing content when you want and not through a trouble ticket.

I am just copying and pasting the directions I sent out to our classrooms that got 5 iPads for their rooms, each. Your exact needs might not be here but you can adapt… Read everything first!

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MAJOR ISSUE: Potential App Store Alternative

This post is meant as a warning to IT directors and school administrators in schools with 1-to-1 iPad implementation (especially if the students can take their iPads home).

There is some Chinese software going around call Tongbu which can allow iPad owners to bypass the built-in app store to acquire apps. Not only is this illegal and unethical, but it also opens up a huge security hole for any school trying to monitor the apps on their students’ iPads. These illegal installs do not require a jailbroken iPad and can occur on supposedly secure school iPads.

You can see a walkthrough of the process here. Now, obviously, I am not posting this in order to encourage theft. Stealing apps is illegal and incredibly insulting to the (mostly) small development teams that work so hard to create many of these apps. However, if you are going to patch up this security flaw at your school, you need to know how the flaw works.

We just did a post on iPad filtering, so refer to it for an in-depth walkthrough of different filtering options. But basically be sure to do the following steps:

  1. Be sure your students’ iPads are being supervised by Configurator.
  2. Be sure that Configurator and Meraki are set to NOT allow iPads to be connected to other computers.
  3. Do a Google search for “Tongbu” and add every website on the first page of results to your internet filtering at your school (and, if possible, add “*tongbu*” as a blocked term altogether). Also, block the URL to that Youtube video I posted above.
  4. Add these same blocked URLs and *tongbu* to your Weblock proxy attached to all the students’ iPads so this stuff is blocked outside of school as well.
  5. And of course, enforce strict and severe disciplinary repercussions if you find any students that have still managed to work around all these security settings to install apps they shouldn’t have.

There are other services that offer this same feature. Do some research, hunt them down, and block them all!

Locking Down Student iPads vs. Trusting Students to Behave

When our school began its 1-to-1 iPad program for our fifth through eighth grade students, we were faced with the same decision every school faces: just how much do we lock down these devices? We had already written up a solid acceptable use policy (that all students and parents had to sign), we had robust internet filtering at the school, we could monitor the iPads via Meraki, we had turned on age restrictions for all features, and we had collected the appropriate insurance money for repairs. But we still had to decide: what do we lock down on the device itself? Facetime? iMessage? The App Store?

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Turning On Automatic App Updates in iOS 7

Just a quick note about automatic updates in iOS 7. Students can turn automatic updates on by going to Settings –> iTunes & App Store and then scrolling down to Automatic Downloads on the right. Turn it on for Apps and they will download automatically from then on.

This works even if you have turned off the App Store using restrictions! This way, apps will update without the teacher having to turn off the restrictions every time!

It also saves you from having to reenter passwords so often.

Unlinking Your Credit Card From Your AppleID

When having parents set up their child's AppleID for the first time, a lot of them end up making decisions that they later regret: such as giving their teenager access to their credit card through the App Store. Other parents don't realize that there are ways to set up an AppleID without giving credit card info at all in the first place and they need to unlink it from the account after the fact.

No matter what your reason, here is a quick and easy tutorial for unlinking the credit card from your child's AppleID. Be sure to share this information with parents early in the school year.

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Tips for Initial Teacher iPad Training / Professional Development

When introducing iPads into a school, you can be sure that there will be a lot of concerned teachers. Many worry that they will not understand the technology, or they are afraid that the students will “outsmart them” or make them look silly or ignorant. Others are more traditional and are simply not excited abut having to adapt to this new technology.

But the fact is that this technology is here to stay. This sort of stuff is the future and even if the teachers or older generations don’t care for it, current students will need to know how to utilize this technology for their eventual careers. It would be a travesty for schools not to do their best to teach with these tools to help prepare kids for a tech-heavy future.

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Love the VPP – The Good Parts, App Distribution

So, I’ve complained a lot about the VPP but there are some good points to it as well. I’ll go over a few of them here so there’s some ying to all my yanging.

The most obvious being the volume discount. Buy more than 20 licenses of one app at one time and they are half off. Note that free apps do not show up in the VPP store. I thought it might be cool to buy 200 copies of a free app while on sale for use in the future but Apple is smarter than me… Remember that it’s 20 or more each time. You can’t buy 20 and come back and buy 5 more and get half off. So, it’s good to buy in bulks of 20 as needed. In the case of the VPP, 11 is more expensive than 20.

Another nice thing about the VPP is the 2 accounts that you will need to run it.

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