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Three uses of iBeacons for your school district

| By: John Miller

iBeacons are exciting technology, but without a little creative brainstorming, it’s difficult to think of ways your school district can use them. We talked with IT admins around the world who are using iBeacons to come up with some great starter projects. Here are a few ideas and some of the benefits they’re experiencing.

Printers 2.0
The Casper Suite has helped IT administrators deploy and configure printers on their Apple devices for more than seven years, providing new technology along the way to improve the workflow and make it more simple for end users. With so many printers and so many users in a typical school, it’s challenging to make it simple for your users to print to the printer they’d expect. Self Service was a huge step forward for users, letting them install and configure the printer for both iOS and OS X devices. This is done using a few different criteria and allowing users access to the eligible printers based on that user’s location on the network. 

iBeacons extend this functionality by providing eligible printers based on their location on the network and the printer that the user is closest to at the time. So any time a user needs to print, all they do is hit print and the nearest printer to them begins to print their documents. 

iBeacons and the Casper Suite make this possible by changing the default printer based on the iBeacon region that the device is in at the time. So when a device enters a region, it sets the default printer to that region and the user automatically gets the benefit without knowing anything has changed. 

AirPlay
Apple has provided excellent collaboration tools for schools by allowing all devices to share their screen through AirPlay technology. Students can share their projects, writing, or video with just a few clicks or taps on their device. Apple provided security to the process with iOS 7 by allowing an IT organization to limit which devices a student can share to, and even distributing the password for those devices. Furthermore, they’ve extended the functionality so that devices don’t even need to be on a WiFi network to communicate with each other, making it all the more easy to share content and collaborate.

IT administrators typically have two strategies for deploying AirPlay targets: give every student what they need ahead of time or give students just what they need when they need it. The latter was difficult until iBeacons were integrated into the Casper Suite. The integration provides the required information only to the students that may collaborate using the AirPlay target, based on the iBeacon region they are in. Any time a student needs to collaborate, they simply share their screen with the only target they see, automatically delivered based on the device’s proximity to the iBeacon.

Update Inventory
The JAMF Software Server (JSS) contains an amazing reporting and inventory engine, providing valuable insights to an organization’s infrastructure and user base. One of the best parts about that inventory is how the Casper Suite allows the IT staff to automate their tasks based on that inventory. So any device that doesn’t have the newest browser version automatically has it deployed and installed without having to worry about IT involvement. 

This inventory is updated on a regular basis, but iBeacons provide a trigger to ensure that information is current. This is especially helpful in situations where a security patch comes out for your OS X devices, like the Heartbleed patch. Instead of revamping existing inventory submissions, an IT administrator can deploy the patch automatically when the device gets on campus, using the iBeacons to know when that is. This is incredibly valuable in quick-response situations where deploying a patch is vital for data security or student privacy reasons.

These are only three examples, but as you can see, schools can certainly benefit from this type of technology.