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September 20, 2022 by Mike Lawrence

Parent empowerment: Opening doors for engagement in education

The final entry in our Jamf School of Thought series about empowering users with Jamf’s end-user apps for education, this blog post details how Jamf Parent gives parenting adults access to their children’s schoolwork and device use.

In the previous installments of this series, I’ve reflected upon how the Jamf Teacher and Jamf Student apps empower their respective users to take an active role in managing school-issued devices. It only remains to examine Jamf Parent and how it gives parents and parenting adults a window into their children’s studies.

To me, Jamf Parent might actually be the most revolutionary of Jamf’s end-user apps for education, because it can make such a vast difference in how involved its users are able to be. We have plenty of research demonstrating how critical it is for parents and families to be engaged in children’s education, but I think we tend to underestimate how alienating the shift to remote and otherwise technology-enhanced learning models can be for parents. It used to be a lot easier to look over students’ shoulders at their homework or flip through their textbooks to get a snapshot of what they were learning, but now so much of their work takes place on devices, distributed among various apps and often locked behind login screens.

The events of the pandemic have really thrown this problem into relief; as parents, we may find that learning is happening under our own roofs without our having much idea what content kids are studying or where they might need some extra help. That’s why Jamf Parent is great, not just for the ability to gain some peace of mind by steering kids away from distractions and inappropriate content, but also for the level of control that parents and parenting adults can exercise over students’ learning.

Easy to get started

Depending upon how schools configure Jamf Parent and whether they use Jamf Pro or Jamf School for their mobile device management (MDM) solution, there are different ways that parents can get set up using the app. They may receive credentials from the school’s IT department, or they may be prompted to pair manually to a student device or devices using a QR code. Either way, connecting to one or multiple devices is quick and painless. Jamf Parent is available for iOS, iPadOS,or Android devices and you can even get it for Apple Watch! It’s great to be able to get notifications about children’s whereabouts or manage their devices in real time with nothing but a watch.

Keeping kids safe and productive

With Jamf Parent, it’s easy to block certain apps and features either all the time or at certain times or places. Users can select these individually or by category, so it can be as simple as stipulating that social media apps or games are off-limits during study times, in much the same way that we’ve seen Jamf Teacher work. Jamf Parent provides helpful guardrails for keeping kids focused on the task at hand, plus you can ensure that they’re not accessing certain types of content like instant messaging when you aren’t around to supervise. On days and times when kids are supposed to be doing homework, they can have access to only the apps they need and nothing else, avoiding the many distractions that the technology offers. It’s also possible to set restrictions on how they manage their device settings, so you don’t run into any issues with the hardware itself.

Location- and motion-based features

Where Jamf Parent really starts to get cool is when you look at the capability of leveraging particular rules and restrictions for certain places. Users can designate the school campus, the home, but also other locations where kids will be frequently, such as grandparents’ homes or community centers, and assign rules to each one. Maybe a student needs to avoid games and social media at Grandma’s house but does need access to Messages so they can be in touch with parents. It’s easy to customize each location to make sure that only the desired activities happen there at the right times. Users can even adjust the border or “geofence” around each location, so for instance the proper rules apply to the entirety of the school campus but not to neighbors’ homes. And Jamf Parent can send notifications when kids get to school or another designated location, providing peace of mind that they’re where they’re supposed to be.

Parents can also use the app to set motion-based rules, so devices can be set to lock when they detect that a student is walking, cycling or driving between locations. This is a major contribution to promoting safety, like an anti-distracted driving solution scaled to how students get around.

Planning activities for school and free time

The feature that probably makes Jamf Parent most valuable in my eyes is its ability to schedule out certain blocks of time for designated activities. I’m sure all parents are aware that children often struggle with time management and appropriately prioritizing school-relating activities. Even when they’re not playing games, kids might dedicate too much time on a subject that they find easier or a more “gamified” app that they especially enjoy, to the detriment of their studies in other subjects. But with Jamf Parent, you can choose an hour to be devoted solely to a particular subject, and lock the student device into only the apps needed to complete those activities.

The granularity that Jamf Parent offers also means that it has a very manageable learning curve. You can start out by just blocking categories of apps that you don’t want kids to use, but as the school year progresses and you get a sense of their progress and pain points, you can take a very active approach to scheduling out their studies. The end result is the polar opposite of the alienation that parents can feel when children do schoolwork on electronic devices — now you have the complete picture of what they’re using the device for and can lend a hand to ensure their study and play times are balanced and focused.

Request a free trial of Jamf School and discover how it makes it easy for parents to engage with students’ learning.

Photo of Mike Lawrence
Mike Lawrence
Mike is an award-winning teacher, administrator and educational leader and was previously recognized as an Apple Distinguished Educator, Class of 2003. He served as the CEO of CUE, expanding the nonprofit’s impact & helping the nonprofit grow fivefold in 12 years, served two terms on the ISTE board, and also directed the California Student Media Festival for a decade. He leads strategic learning and development initiatives worldwide at Jamf.
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