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IBM wisdom transforming IT practices in K-12 education

At their peak, Hopkins Public Schools in Hopkins, Minnesota deployed 500 iPads per hour, putting 93 percent of iPads into students’ hands by the third day of school. How did they do it?

Rewind to the 2015 Jamf Nation User Conference (JNUC), where John Wetter, Technical Services Manager at Hopkins Public Schools, attended Fletcher Previn’s (then VP of Workplace-as-a-Service at IBM; now CIO at IBM) presentation, Mac@IBM, Zero to 30,000 in 6 Months. The enterprise deployment approach that IBM presented was truly a user-first approach.

"Our job is to create a productive environment for IBMers,” said Previn. As he stressed, "The what you’re working on will change, but the how and the who is really the secret sauce."

Wetter was inspired. He thought, “If a corporation like IBM can be agile and take a user-first approach, why can’t a K-12 school district do the same?”

By taking a cue from IBM and reimagining how they define success, rethinking their hiring and training processes and automating their device deployment workflows, Hopkins Public Schools (HPS) is able to meet students where they’re at while integrating technology seamlessly throughout the district. Here are the of the lessons they shared in their recent webinar, Applying IBM Deployment Strategies to K-12 Education:

Lesson 1: Rethink how you define success
It all started with a new take on support. Prior to JNUC, Wetter’s team measured Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like speed to helpdesk ticket resolution to determine how well they were doing as a technical services organization. After JNUC, they began seeing students, staff and teachers as customers. HPS shifted to a customer service based measurement rather than a timeline. The shift to measuring customer satisfaction caused people to be uneasy at first, but they’re already seeing an increase in customer satisfaction scores — ranking in the 95th percentile.

Lesson 2: Build the human side of infrastructure
One of the most impactful changes made by Wetter and his team was streamlining their hiring process. While HPS hires staff members dedicated to help with app troubleshooting, damage, password resets, etc., for their 1:1 iPad program, they historically sought out prospective employees with strong technical skills. To align with their shift of delivering world-class customer service, HPS began prioritizing hiring staff with strong communication skills with the intention of teaching them more of the technical side of their roles with on-the-job training. They also offered flexible scheduling to recruit top talent, while supporting schools at all hours of the day. And finally, they hired and onboarded staff earlier in the summer to familiarize new employees with the technology and get them comfortable before students arrived for school in the fall.

Lesson 3: Automate where possible
One of the more tech-centric lessons learned by HPS was how to automate human intensive tasks. HPS requires that parents and students sign a user agreement prior to accepting their iPads each fall. What was once a manual process went fully automated leveraging Google sheets and the Jamf Pro API. With this new, automated deployment process, parents are able to sign a permission slip by simply checking a box in a Google form, which triggers the Jamf API to provision the student’s device.

With these lessons, Hopkins Public Schools offers world-class support to staff and relevant, culturally responsive lessons to students anytime, anywhere — all on a shoestring budget. This equates to a better technology and learning experience for students, and more empowered employees and engaged parents.

Watch the below video to learn more about the tools, guidance and decision-making process Hopkins used to make this happen.