When we started Jamf Breakfast Club, our light-hearted look at trends and best-practices for technology in education, our focus was squarely on the United Kingdom and Ireland. So it is with great excitement that in July we hosted our first episode in the United States! In this episode, we had the opportunity to explore the use case of Mercy Academy in Louisville, Kentucky, which has been employing not one but two Jamf mobile device management (MDM) solutions simultaneously for the last few years. Amanda DeGrella, educational technology coordinator for Mercy Academy, chatted with Jamf’s education leadership executive Dr. Emily McRoberts-Froese and inside sales senior manager Dan Nadeau about her experience starting an iPad program at the school and using Jamf MDM to manage their devices.
Founded by the Sisters of Mercy, a religious congregation of Catholic women, Mercy Academy is the first all-girls accredited STEM school in the United States. Comprising grades nine through twelve, it serves a diverse student body of over 500 learners from different racial, socioeconomic and religious backgrounds. An early adopter of Jamf Pro (back when it was called Casper), Mercy started using Jamf School during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and administrators are excited about its capabilities and results.
Amanda DeGrella initially majored in equine management in college, but she soon found herself drawn to teaching, beginning with kindergarten and subsequently teaching fifth grade for four years before transitioning to an educational technology role. For the last four years, she has worked for Mercy Academy as an EdTech specialist, even having the pleasure of serving some of the same students she taught in elementary school. Her long and varied history with Jamf gives her a great perspective to offer insights on how it can transform learning and what other helpful tools can be used in conjunction with Jamf MDM.
Why do educators love Jamf MDM?
DeGrella noted that, since Mercy Academy began using Jamf School, they have been using it for new students’ devices and continuing to manage older students’ devices via Jamf Pro. However, the desire to provide the same range of tools for everyone led to the decision to manage the school’s entire iPad fleet with Jamf School in this school year. She appreciates how easy and flexible both solutions are for configuring and provisioning devices, giving each teacher the opportunity to pick the specific apps they want to use in class. She explained why admins like using Jamf MDM and noted the following highlights:
- Time filters: This was a big one! During school hours, Mercy Academy’s iPad fleet disables iMessage and all social media apps, leaving them hidden to students. Once classes end, the apps appear and students can resume using their devices for personal enjoyment. DeGrella noted that there was some initial pushback from students about blocking these apps, but it has been well worth it to eliminate distractions and increase productivity. This approach allows students to still have fun with the devices during their free time and makes the process easy for IT, even though classes are dismissed at different times on different days of the week.
- Testing and assessments: Jamf MDM allows teachers to lock down student devices so that they only have access to the learning management system and a note-taking app like Notability. This has been a great help for evaluating student knowledge, especially in remote learning situations.
- Lesson planning and development: The Jamf Teacher app makes it easy for educators to create their own lesson plans and share them with students. While the first year of figuring out remote learning during the pandemic was chaotic, DeGrella said that she has gotten great results from focusing on instructing teachers at the beginning of each school year on the fundamentals of using Jamf Teacher for their classroom needs.
Favorite educational apps for iPad
DeGrella also shared some of her favorite apps for students to use on their school-issued iPads. She identified a range of tools for different purposes:
- Notability: This note-taking app is a good universal tool for students, and during assessments it is one of the few apps that admins do not lock. Teachers encourage students to create a folder in Notability for each class; since the school employs a block scheduling model, students sometime will create different folders for “A” and “B” days.
- Explain Everything (Jamf integration): This digital whiteboard app is great for recording videos, sharing content and creating digital repositories for students to use. DeGrella began using it while it was a free service, although it now requires a paid subscription.
- Procreate: This sophisticated tool for creating digital artwork has unlocked student creativity and led to some exciting results.
- Canva: DeGrella likes using this design tool to convey information visually through posters and presentations. She finds the finished products to be more interesting than typical PowerPoint presentations and feels like it is easy with Canva to showcase your own personality.
Don’t miss snippets from ISTELive 22!
At the end of the session, you’ll get to hear some attendees of the latest International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference give candid answers about why they love the iPad and Jamf solutions.
Ready to hear more?
Access the session to enjoy the entire conversation with Amanda DeGrella.
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