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Education technology initiatives shine during Jamf at School Keynote

Sam Johnson, Chief Customer Officer at Jamf, welcomed attendees to the second day of the Jamf Nation conference.

Before he began discussing this year's innovations, Johnson reviewed how far we've come from "packed like sardines in a single room 10 years ago" to today: it's twenty times larger, with 20 times more sessions!

"Some things have stayed the same," said Johnson. "The passion you bring in pushing the boundaries of what's possible in our industry: the JNUC tradition."

Today, the expectation for technology in the classroom is enablement: the end users want to be the creators or architects of what they achieve.

Education faces a unique challenge: most k-12 schools need tens or hundreds or, in a district, thousands of teachers to manage a common curriculum. Admins can no longer be personally responsible for this; you need to bring in teachers.

How can we meet this challenge?

"Let’s start with what we believe," said Johnson. "All of us in this room believe one common thing. Apple, with its intuitive interface and the largest ecosystem of content in the world, is the best platform for allowing our students to learn. We need to move forward with a common strategy."

To discuss this strategy, Dave Saltmarsh, Global Education Specialist with Jamf, addressed the assembly. "We all believe," he added, "That every student deserves the best learning opportunity."

He then outlined Jamf's educational vision:

  • Student-centered learning that is active, personal and equitable
  • Helping teachers educate with classroom tools that just work
  • Empowering all students with the best learning opportunity

Saltmarsh emphasized the power of shifting focus to the end user: the student.

Higher education and K-12 organizations are redesigning their learning spaces to empower students — to create, fail quickly, learn from those failures and move on. This involves teachers asking more questions than answering them. It involves them moving around the room to get personal. And Jamf can help in this effort by providing a tool that allows for personalized abilities, privileges and settings. No one size fits all.

At the base, said Saltmarsh, we have to start with the basic goal of getting students to think critically.

We also do need to look at the devices, said Saltmarsh. Shrinking the digital divide means that devices need to work online, especially as 18% of students in the United States alone don't have internet access in their homes. How about students with learning differences? Is the assistive technology native? Is it built in and easy to access?

Sam Johnson introduced the attendants to the three products that can help schools achieve these goals the most:

  • Jamf Pro: enterprise-grade device management for all Apple devices
  • Jamf School: simple, powerful, device management tailored specifically for the most important K-12 needs
  • Jamf Connect: bridging identity no matter where it lies (even if it's Google!).

Katie English, Product Manager at Jamf, walked the attendees through Jamf Pro and its uses in education.

First, she reminded the audience that Jamf has been innovating in education for years, and iterating on Apple's improvements time and again, from Casper Suite to Casper Focus and SIS importer.

Just one year ago, she said, "we kicked off a monster effort for education in Jamf Pro at JNUC 2018 with support for Classroom on the Mac. Then came Roster category enhancements from Apple School Manager, the ability to integrate with your Google Identity, and we've borrowed some brain power from our new team at Jamf School to add Parent App functionality to Jamf Pro."

She then walked the crowd through what Jamf Teacher app requests look like from the IT side of things: seeing what the teacher needs, how many licenses, and where to scope them easily.

Jamf Connect can help make a student's device 'theirs' much more quickly. With a post-enrollment authentication workflow, you can stage your device to have everything it needs well before knowing which student it will be assigned to.

And of course, Jamf Connect on macOS allows you to use your cloud-identity provider for local account provisioning.

Finally, as data and management continue their inevitable transition to the cloud, Jamf has you covered with cloud management and identity integrations. We’ve already delivered significant improvements as we optimize our back-end infrastructure in Jamf Cloud with Amazon's scaling and database management tools. Ongoing front-end refactors mean more performance of day-to-day interactions, as well as improved APIs for programmatic access.

"And it really doesn't hurt that our cloud team picked up a bunch of new expertise from our new cloud-only, education-focused product in Jamf School," said English, introducing Jamf School's Product Strategist, Kirsten Visscher, who outlined Jamf School's features.

Jamf School

  • Created by the IT department of a school, Jamf School is 100% purpose-built education-focused MDM.
  • More than 60 countries use Jamf School.
  • Jamf School is affordable and offers free apps.
  • Made for teachers who often need to run the IT for their classrooms, the workflows are as simple as possible.

Students: Learn without distractions. Keep students focused in classrooms.
Teachers: Keep or regain control in the classroom and much more.
Parents: Homework without distractions. Help parents to keep their children focused and off of apps parents don't want.

Visscher demo-ed a simple setup environment, mentioning that most schools are up and running in 30 minutes.

The management portal, said English, allows admins to see all of the teachers, devices and apps, but also hands over as much power and autonomy to students and teachers as school policies will allow. Jamf School offers a drag and drop interface to add apps, unique profiles and even scripting.

If you still need help, Jamf School has a support button in the product: FAQ, ticket creation and a chat feature.

The Teacher app is a companion to the Apple Classroom app. Teachers can prepare your lessons ahead of time, send text messages, lock multiple apps and extend the classroom.

Jamf Teacher is available today in Jamf School, coming to Jamf Pro in 2020.

Already on Jamf School and Jamf Pro: the Parent app, which allows for timed or location-based controls of which apps students can use as well as a QR code pairing workflow, which makes parent enablement as easy as possible.

Some school districts use Jamf School and Jamf Pro.

Jamf Pro

  • Extensible
  • Proven scalability
  • Powerful with all iOS, iPadOS, tvOS and Mac devices

Chris Miller, From Eanes Independent School District in Austin Texas talked about his district's decision to use both Jamf Pro and Jamf School.

"We're a mature 1-to-1 all-Apple ecosystem," said Miller. "With feedback from instruction, we needed to pause and refresh what we were trying to achieve."

Miller decided that moving K-5 grades to Jamf School was a very good fit. The simplicity, the educational focus and powerful features putting controls back into the classroom for teachers to instructionally focus devices seemed ideal. "We also liked features that increased transparency and allowed parents to have more control at home," said Miller.

They migrated about 3-4,000 devices in three weeks from Jamf Pro to Jamf School. He found he didn't have to bring his team members up to speed because Jamf School is so simple and intuitive.

Sam Weiss, the Solution Partner Program Manager at Jamf, spoke about the importance of joining with partners – after all, Jamf simply cannot take care of every single need a school district has.

"We encourage app developers to support the native apple experience," said Weiss, "and then offer integration and customization through our Developer Tools like our API, Webhooks and advanced support of AppConfiguration."

It's not just our end users building these integrations. There is a growing ecosystem of third-party developers that embrace these same tools for the benefit of Jamf admins and end users and you can find them among the more than 300 partners listed at Jamf Marketplace.

Jamf Marketplace

  • 100-200 visitors a day
  • 108,000 solutions discovered

One such partner is Eric Henry, President, Carousel Digital Signage, who leverages Apple TV to allow for digital signage in classrooms using equipment they already have. Their mission: to help organizations communicate effectively in the places where people gather.

In schools, classrooms are the places that people gather. Using Carousel with Jamf, admins can override classroom instructions with safety or other urgent messages and put up messages during class change time. Thanks to Jamf, managing and configuring these takes only a few minutes.

Eli Luberoff, CEO of Desmos, let the audience know about Jamf's collaboration with Desmos: a free graphing calculator that students can access through any device. This not only gives students without the means to purchase a $100 calculator access this important tool, but it also allows for customization of tools that are based on specific tests.

Desmos' goal: to help every student learn math and love learning math. And they mean ALL students: economic and disability-related equity is important to Desmos. Blind and visually impaired students benefit from Desmos' blind developer on their team ensuring that all of their work is or has:

  • WCAG 2.1 AA
  • Text-to-Speech
  • Reverse contrast
  • Braille support
  • Audio Trace: play graphs as sounds

Desmos is so widely used that many districts and nationwide testers have created assesments around Desmos: 30+ state tests have built-in custom Desmos calculators, as has the digital ACT and digital ACT and the IB programs.

Through the new Desmos Test Mode (available on Jamf's Marketplace as a beta), admins can choose the exact versions of calculators that students will be facing to be the calculator that they use at school.

This not only allows administrators to better prepare students, but when it's managed by Jamf, it increases students' privacy and security.

To assist in this, the team at Desmos created an app config generator. You can use a graphical UI to set these up with dropdowns, click boxes, and answering a few questions. The tool generates an app config script based on the selections Admins, copy it, put it into the AppConfiguration, and it's done.

This is available in Jamf Pro AND Jamf School.

The education keynote closed with a few key announcements.

TRAINING NEWS: we've released more than 100 videos onto the training catalog. 15 playlists for Jamf Pro, Jamf School, and Jamf Connect. Today, it's available to all customers free of charge: trainingcatalog.jamf.com.

200, 300 and 400 classes have become the standard: we know you need to dedicate your time to learning the products in front of you. Starting today, we have new education pricing on all of our training products with 20% off all classes. Until the end of the year, you can get 20% off the training pass as well.

Johnson also announced information about next year's JNUC: it is on September 29-October 1st. "The last 10 years has been fantastic here in Minneapolis," said Johnson, "but we decided that we're going to take this show on the road. We are moving to sunny San Diego, California. Early registration begins right away!"