There are many ways to setup iPads in school, until recently each iPad needed a separate iTunes account or you use one account across multiple machines, this isn’t recommended as you really need to buy a copy of an app for each iPad and this way would allow you to purchase one copy and then use it on multiple iPads, thus infringing on copyright.
Apple have released cofigurator which is meant to make this much easier, you use one master volume purchaser account which allows you to ‘manage’ multiple iPads from within the interface. You purchase however many copies of an app you need and use a spreadsheet of codes to install on each iPad, this is in its infancy at present and needs a bit more work until it can become a viable option for schools to use, most importantly until Apple allow for different methods of billing.
The problem for schools is that you need a credit card to purchase apps and at present we don’t have one. i-Teach have come up with a solution whereby a school uses their credit card and then they bill the school for usage in the traditional way, this seems like a good alternative although they haven’t set this facility up yet, when they do this will be the way we chose to manage the iPads as it will ensure we have the have adhered to any copyright and usage policies.
In the mean time we have tried to stay on ‘free’ apps as much as possible. We downloaded all the apps we wanted to use on to the iMac and then synced one iPad, we then organised that iPad until we were happy that everything was setup the way we wanted (folders, accounts etc), then backed it up to the iMac. from that backup we restored all the other iPads using the master backup and voila we have 35 iPads all looking the same with the same apps.
I am now in the process of training the pupils in my class to sync the iPads they are responsible for once a week to the iMac. The iMac will update the apps accordingly and this will follow through to the iPads once they are synced (and backed up).
One area I’m still yet to master and see how it works, is what happens with all the work, photos, videos the children create and how I prevent the iPads getting full up. The 16Gb of space is going to fill up fast. I will cover saving/sharing work in a later post as I have a lot more thoughts on this.
I also created 35 different wallpapers each with a number and the school logo on to use as the backgrounds to the iPads, thus making them easily identifiable. This was done by sharing a folder containing all the wallpapers folder with all the iPads and choosing the relevant file to become the background, the problem then was that I have to keep all 35 images on each iPad, I haven’t found a way of deleted the 34 unused ones. The only risk here is that a pupil could change the background and thus interfere with the numbering. Still looking for a better way. All the iPads have had their serial numbers linked to the number iPad they are, which means I do have master records for security.
The pupils have been taught that if an iPad battery gets under 30% then they need to plug it in to be recharged when not being used. This has worked well so far, I have 12 chargers ready to be used at any one time until I can afford to get syncing trolley.
So that is the way they are setup in our school I know this is by far not the only and probably not the best way, I would be very glad to here of any other way of setting up the iPads that people have used that could be simpler than this.
On the other hand, if anyone wants more info or support on setting up the iPads in their school please get in touch.