If you’ve worked to set up a device fleet for a school or educational institution, you likely know what a headache it can be to enroll new devices and purchase apps and books in volume. With Apple School Manager, you can take advantage of a tool that radically simplifies these processes and works well alongside your mobile device management (MDM) solution. But do you understand what exactly Apple School Manager is and what all you can use it for?
What is the origin of Apple School Manager?
IT admins in education used to have recourse to Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) and Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) for the purposes of enrolling and provisioning devices. Apple eventually consolidated the functionality of DEP and VPP, along with other classroom management tools such as the Classroom app, into a single portal known as Apple School Manager. Admins can use this web-based portal as a unified hub in which to oversee users, devices and content. In addition to MDM, Apple School Manager is designed to integrate with a school’s student information system (SIS).
For business organizations, Apple Business Manager comes from the same roots and offers similar functionality:
What can you do with Apple School Manager?
One of the key functions of Apple School Manager is the ability to generated Managed Apple IDs, a unique type of Apple ID for members of an organization – in the educational context, this means students, teachers and staff. These do not require parental permission, and admins can create them in the Apple School Manager portal and dynamically update user information. Managed Apple IDs can sync with Classroom data as well as the school’s SIS, so they can be used to organize classes.
Apple School Manager allows for the use of the Shared iPad feature, which offers students a personalized learning experience and extends the value of each purchased iPad. Each student assigned to a given iPad signs in with their Managed Apple ID and resumes working where they left off, with all their apps and content ready to use. When they sign out and another user takes control of the shared device, all their work remains intact for their next session.
Educators can also use Apple School Manager to tap into Apple’s Classroom app and direct students to the desired learning resource or website, share work to an Apple TV and perform basic management functions such as resetting device passcodes.
And of course, Apple School Manager works for enrolling devices and purchasing apps and books in volume, but by itself it doesn’t provide the opportunity for remote management of devices. In combination with an MDM solution, however, it can use automation to radically simplify workflows and allow admins to perform effective zero-touch deployments of new devices.
Why use Apple School Manager with MDM?
Apple School Manager and MDM are a match made in heaven. When admins purchase devices through an authorized Apple channel, their macOS, iOS and iPadOS devices are automatically enrolled in Apple School Manager. They can then set it to automatically enroll devices into their MDM solution, providing remote management capabilities over all school-owned assets. In addition to the automatic, zero-touch device enrollment, using Apple School Manager prevents the MDM from being removed by an end user, which contributes an additional layer of security.
The process for all this is simple:
- Sign up online for Apple School Manager and add your MDM server to the portal.
- Purchase devices and link them to your account. You can ship them directly to end users for zero-touch enrollment.
- When the user turns on the device for the first time, enrollment proceeds automatically with no further intervention from IT required.
- The device receives the desired configurations and apps, and the device is now managed and configured without IT’s touch.
When paired with an MDM solution like Jamf Pro or Jamf School, Apple School Manager offers a seamless experience for IT while preserving the Apple experience that end users expect. It also helps to ensure that education institutions maintain a robust security posture.
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