The years following an initial one-to-one deployment bring a unique set of challenges, including shortened timelines and higher expectations for efficiency. For Hopkins Public Schools this was certainly the story as they entered their fourth year of a one-to-one iPad deployment. As the Technical Services Manager for Hopkins Public Schools, John Wetter knows a thing or two about deployments.
"Focus on learning and instruction and how that’s actually happening in the classroom, the device is really a secondary conversation for us,” he said.
In the fall of 2015, Hopkins deployed approximately 3,200 devices to students by the end of the second day of school. At one point on the first day of school, devices were handed out to students at a rate of about 500 devices per hour. Wetter walked the JAMF Nation User Conference (JNUC) crowd through the logistics and technical underpinnings necessary to make other deployments as successful as Hopkins' was.
Students are key to the process
One thing that Hopkins believes in is having students play a major role in the technology, how it is handed out and how it is used. They use a digital literacy program to ensure students are becoming good stewards of the digital community. With levels ranging from White Belt to Master Ninja level, restrictions and access changes are based on how far the students move through the program. The further along in the program, the more freedom students get with their devices.
For the deployment of iPads, it’s “not [IT] out front, not just the teachers,” he said. “We work extensively with their Student Genius Team. Students make sure that other students are ready to go.” Wetter also said that Student Government makes the decisions on which websites are available and which are not.
"It’s about students and staff working together. This gives you buy-in from all sides. Seeing students involved, really reduces that stress of something new happening in the environment. Students getting help from someone that they’re seeing in the classroom everyday,” said Wetter.
Best methods for IT
Wetter says that building backwards is the number one aspect of a successful deployment. Start with where you want to be in the fall, how do you want to deploy, what needs to happen to get there. “Talk about where you want to get, not where you want to start,” he added.
When collecting devices at the end of the year from students, he says that Hopkins collects by room on the last two days of the school year. Students are given a checklist of items to complete before handing their iPad in, including turn off Find My iPad. They also self report any damage and turn in a card that includes their passcodes and other pertinent information.
Getting ready for the next school year
He says that all of this work is done over the summer. They inspect their iPads, re-group iPads alphabetically so returning students can get their same iPad back.
“One thing you’ll notice that we did not do, we did not wipe the iPads,” Wetter said. "We wanted to give the students back their device how they left it. Your Justin Bieber desktop is still your desktop.” This gives students a sense of ownership of their device.
All students sign a user agreement and acknowledge the fees for damage. Once that is complete, the Student Genius Team puts the iPads directly in the hands of students. And helps them through the initial setup process. He says that keeping the setup steps short and simple for students is key to getting the iPads out the door quickly.
He added that the major role of the technical staff during the handout is a table in the corner where they mostly assist with enrollment clean up.
Backend work for IT
He says that his staff will automate the JSS setup and the Volume Purchase Program invites are also sent out automatically. “We’ll set up the smart groups and then we’re ready to go.”
For Active Directory and accounts, they pull the current enrollment and create accounts. Fields are then populated to use for search and groups and, accounts are created in Google with the same info.
As Wetter stressed throughout his presentation, students, staff and IT working together is the best way to get everyone onboard and ready to make the most of the technology in the classroom each and every year.