The City of Beckum: Modern device management enabling secure web surfing at seven schools

Beckum is a town in the North Rhine-Westphalian district of Warendorf with a population of around 37,000. Beckum’s schooling landscape is made up of five elementary schools at seven locations, one secondary school, one intermunicipal comprehensive school, and two high schools. A total of around 400 teachers and 100 other staff are employed at these institutions, all of whom look after around 3,800 students.

The IT for these schools is managed by four systems administrators from the city of Beckum and consists of hardware such as projectors, document cameras, server NAS systems and telephone systems as well as software components ranging from Windows and Apple devices to individual educational apps. The administrators are also responsible for advising individual schools on IT issues and for training teachers and staff.

The city of Beckum provides seven schools with hardware and software
Jamf School is used to manage students' iPads
Jamf Safe Internet protects students by restricting unsafe or inappropriate content

Apple + Jamf = Modern, digital teaching and management

System administrator, Frank Bäcker, put a lot of work into the IT infrastructure of Beckum's schools early on, especially into the WLAN network. In this way, he prepared the city's schools perfectly for the wave of digitization in the coming years."It was a coincidence that everything came together so nicely. This gave us a competitive advantage in comparison to other cities and schools and meant that we were able to get started right away," he says looking back.

The primary objective was to make teaching and management operations at Beckum's schools more modern and digital, which saw the first iPads – a total of 15 cases, all of which contained 400 iPads as well as Apple TV – being purchased in 2014 and set up for use mainly by elementary school teachers. The decision in favor of Apple devices and Jamf as the mobile device management (MDM) provider was not a difficult one. Not only were most of the education apps optimized for iOS, iPads could also be managed remotely – efficiently and with ease. With that said, it was clear that a provider with many years of experience and extensive expertise with Apple products should also be brought on board for MDM. It is there that Frank Bäcker says that "in the decision-making process, we looked at various MDM providers and also informed ourselves at some events - we were told from several sides: please go with Jamf."

Thanks to the existing infrastructure, the funding from the DigitalPakt Schule, an initiative to help foster digital environments in German schools, could be used to further digitize teaching from 2019. Dominik Fahrin, systems administrator for Beckum schools, draws an impressive comparison: "If we look at neighboring municipalities, they have digitized their schools with the money from the DigitalPakt. We, on the other hand, were able to put the grant money into maintaining existing hardware and purchasing new hardware."

At the time, Jamf Pro was selected as the MDM solution for the iPads as well as executive iPhones, with comprehensive management capabilities, including device and inventory management and app lifecycle management. With the introduction of Jamf School, which provides the best value for school operations and the best learning experience for students via a web-based user interface, all student devices were migrated to the new MDM tool. Now, IT administrators can view all managed devices, users, and apps from a dashboard and troubleshoot issues centrally. In addition, teachers could upload subject-specific materials in advance to a dedicated server, which is then used to deliver the files to their students over the local network.

The transition from Jamf Pro to Jamf School was gradual and smooth in Beckum. In total, the city of Beckum currently uses around 3,100 licenses for Jamf School and 3,100 licenses for Jamf Safe Internet.

With Jamf, everything was perfectly suited in terms of compatibility to our IT architecture right from the start, without us having to do any major preparatory work. What’s more is that Jamf Pro, Jamf School and Jamf Safe Internet are very intuitive and simple to use in everyday situations: These are solutions that you can manage on the side, even if you don't deal with them every day.
Frank Bäcker System-Administrator

Safe surfing for students with Jamf Safe Internet

Being able to manage and secure mobile devices was not the only reason for choosing Jamf solutions. Pupils today spend almost twice as much time online as they did a few years ago and, unfortunately, more and more cases in Germany are showing that many tablets used in schools still lack the all-important child protection filters. The challenge here is primarily that children and young people are more willing to disclose their personal data online and often not sufficiently acquainted with methods used by cybercriminals to steal said data, such as phishing, social engineering, or malware. At the same time, however, lawmakers have deemed them to be in particular need of protection, especially in the context of teaching and school operations.

Protecting students from cyberbullying as well as harmful, inappropriate, illegal, or simply unproductive content online was, therefore, also an important concern for the parties responsible when it came to selecting the appropriate security solution. Jamf Safe Internet provides comprehensive and powerful educational content filters that integrate easily and seamlessly with Jamf Pro or Jamf School to help schools protect minors from specific online content without compromising their learning experience. It also doesn't matter where or to which network the iPad is connected, and synchronization with Jamf School means every device is covered quickly and with ease.

In Beckum, for example, this means content such as violence or pornography is blocked completely, and social media is blocked during the day. Systems administrator, Benedikt Reich, also sees the advantages compared to a conventional firewall: "Firewalls slow down traffic. Working with them is slow and difficult, so we are thinking about getting rid of the firewalls. Jamf Safe Internet, on the other hand, is completely different; everything works flawlessly." The categories by which content is filtered can be freely defined to combine maximum flexibility with the best possible protection. There is even an option to filter by disproportionate bandwidth consumption or data usage if required. The integration of functions such as Google SafeSearch and YouTube Restricted Mode also ensure that blocked content does not appear in Google search results and that corresponding videos and their comments are hidden on YouTube.

The protection of students is also not limited to everyday school life. Jamf Safe Internet permanently connects students' devices to their school’s VPN, and the content filters also extend to the home WLAN, depending on the settings.

In summary, Frank Bäcker concludes that "the features we are particularly excited about are Jamf Safe Internet's flexible content filter, profile management for and via WLAN, user synchronization for shared end devices, and the extensive functions for remotely managing apps on the devices. Our goal is that in the future, all students will have an iPad at their disposal - and they will be managed and secured with Jamf."

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