If you think an MDM transition in the middle of the school year seems impossible, think again. In today’s session, Michael Bailey, Omaha Skutt Catholic High School Assistant Principal, and Oliver Bantam, the school’s coordinator of Instructional Technology, proved that switching MDM providers is not only possible, it’s easy with Jamf. Together they not only went through the transition process, but also simultaneously deployed Google and reset iPads for enrollment in the proper MDM. The duo also discussed how they communicated the transition to staff, parents and students.
Where they started
With a desire to get the best technology possible, in the fall of 2014, they implemented an iPad program. It started as a blend of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and school-issued devices. Though not their preferred program, they did the best with what they had. They also knew they needed device management, so they chose a free solution that aligned with their existing servers and infrastructure: Meraki.
The decision to switch
“It just never worked,” Bailey said. They weren’t able to successfully distribute apps through VPP using redemption codes, a critical piece of their app assignment workflow. In fact, the only restriction they were able to deploy was “Single App Mode.” Bailey’s only option was to restrict students to the Maps app, rendering the iPad unusable.
The lack of customer support was also a factor in deciding to switch. “We could have spent four days troubleshooting VPP with Meraki, but we needed to get the apps to the students now,” Bantam said. Login troubles and the update process also contributed to the search for a new solution.
They wanted a solution that not only worked, but also allowed them to empower students. Their dream was to restrict the devices to school-based apps during the day and then remove the restrictions at night for students to use at home. “We spoke with our Apple engineer, and they gave us perspective on what exists,” Bailey explained. This lead them to Jamf, which has a track record of success among other schools in Nebraska, along with a reputation for a unique customer support model.
In March of 2016, they purchased 800 Jamf licenses, with the intent of using 400 as part of a phased approach. But because of the negative experience with Meraki, they decided to deploy the 1-to-1 iPads managed by Jamf to almost all students while the senior class BYOD users were phased out ad-hoc.
At the same time, Bantam pushed for Skutt to become a Google School. This greatly helped with the migration, as they were able to move all the data from the school-issued and BYOD iPads into Google Drive for an easy transition to the 1-to-1 iPads.
Communication to stakeholders
“Communication becomes the single most important thing we do with any new project, especially to parents and families,” Bantam said. In April 2016, they targeted theology and english class department heads, since those are required courses for all students. After a Jamf demo and a standing ovation, the heads welcomed Bantam and Bailey into their classes to educate the students on the program. Next came a letter that went out to parents and families informing them of the new iPad program. The community response was overwhelmingly positive.
In May 2016, they rolled out the new 1-to-1 program over two weeks. During the first week, they met with students on a Monday and gave them one week to save all of their iPad content (another place where the transition to Google Apps for education helped immensely). The second week, they visited each class, wiped and re-enrolled each student iPad with the students. BYOD students had individual appointments to migrate their projects to the new devices.
Resetting the DEP devices was a breeze, and while the BYOD devices required extra time, it was well worth it to transition the entire school over the course of a few weeks. Not only was the new 1-to-1 iPad program rollout successful, but it also helped students with the transition to Google apps.
And even though they now manage 1,600 devices across teachers, staff and students, they only leverage network traffic form 7:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. “The flexible and scalable configuration profiles in Jamf allowed us to cut our bandwidth by 50%,” Bantam explained.
Bantam and Bailey don’t come from an IT background, but their passion for wanting to provide the best technology possible for teachers and students to drive their learning experience brought them to the 1:1 iPad. Bailey remarked, “The students are at the center of all this. We want them to take some ownership of the device. And with Jamf, that’s finally possible.”