Legacy and Education

One thing I like about Apple is that they are happy to jettison the past in order to make way for the future.  The opposite can be said for educational ICT, which doggedly clings to legacy technology.  T.  The thing that depresses me about using Macs in schools is that the software teachers use all day long is Microsoft Office, a bloated and ageing necessary evil that was originally released on the Macintosh in 1989.  Or that we’re still using SMARTBoards that require a USB-serial connector.  And that we’re having to run a Windows virtual machine in order to support PC-only software that was released circa 2003.

What I’m looking forward to about starting to use iPads in September is that legacy is excluded.  You can’t keep doing things the old way but instead have to embrace the new.  Instead of Word, Pages.  Instead of SMARTBoards, video mirroring to your screen of choice.  Instead of Windows-only handwriting software, all manner of interactive letter-forming apps.  Well that’s the dream anyway.

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Setting up iPads pt.3

Yesterday I managed to finish setting up the iPads…yay! It was much less eventful and just involved setting the remaining iPads going during the day and then turning them all off for storage over the summer.

All that remains come September is to assemble the IKEA storage boxes, put the iPads in their cases and do some staff training.

In hindsight, it was pretty straightforward after all. I don’t imagine setting up 45 MacBooks or something would have only taken a day or so!

WebDAV

My problem is that I, deep down, hope and expect software and technology to work easily and first-time. One day I shall learn…

Our other task for today was to try and set up a WebDAV share on our windows server for our new iPads. Unfortunately we couldn’t get it to work, although our amazing technician is looking into it

I did manage to setup a new WebDAV share on our Lion server though. I was having trouble accessing it until I discovered the correct URL for the WebDAV share. It should be something like this:

http://hostname/webdav/sharename

The Lion share will work for windows and Macs too, so I’ll just add another share point to each user’s desktop called ‘ipad’ or something. It’s not ideal that it’s separate to our ‘school’ shared drive, but hopefully we’ll get the Windows WebDAV working before too long.

Setting up iPads pt.2

Or, Spectacular, Spectacular!

Today we had a go at setting up all the iPads. It was not entirely successful, perhaps even spectacularly disastrous, but definitely informative.

Here was the plan:

  1. Setup Apple ID on one device per class set, redeem iTunes vouchers and then download required apps
  2. Backup to iCloud
  3. Restore from iCloud on the other iPads in the class set
  4. Sit down and have a cup of tea, marvelling at how quick and easy all that was

Alas, no.

iTunes vouchers

Didn’t think this would be a problem, as our Apple reseller sent us enough iTunes voucher codes. However, two of them weren’t working so I thought I would just buy some from my own iTunes account and then claim back the expenses. The first try worked, but when I tried to create a second gift voucher, it just wouldn’t let me. Instead we had to take a trip to Morrisons to physically buy a second voucher. Hey ho.

Download apps

Setting the apps going was very simple as I had emailed a list of iTunes URLs to the iPad. A few taps later, all the apps had been bought and were starting to download. However, I hadn’t reckoned on the school’s 20mbps connection and the large size of apps like Pages, Keynote and Numbers. It took about an hour to download 6 iPads of apps…not pleasant!

iCloud backup

The backup to iCloud was easy peasy, as was the restoring from backup (to begin with). However, we then hit issues of iPads not thinking we were in the UK and then promptly deleting all the pending apps.

There was also the issue of the lock screen names that Apple Configurator had done for us. To get round this, you just had to plug the iPad back into the Mac with Apple Configurator on and let it reapply the name and the configuration profiles (for wifi etc). This had to be done before entering any passwords and re-downloading apps.

I’m hoping that leaving the iPads in their boxes happily downloading apps overnight will result in a set of setup iPads in the morning. I’m also hoping that the pain at this point will result in slightly more straightforward day-to-day usage of the iPads. Hopefully!

Setting Up iPads pt.1

Yesterday I finally had the time to start setting up the iPads at school. Yay!

The first job was to get the wifi going. We’re putting in Ubiquiti’s UNIFi wireless access points, which seem pretty good but also very reasonably priced. They have ceiling-mountable access points which can then be configured by a web-based controller you install somewhere on your network. All the points aren’t in yet, so I just had one sitting on the table in the room I was in. I couldn’t get the controller to work for a while, but thankfully our amazing technician got it working (something to do with conflicting ports).

I could then begin unboxing iPads. They came in bigger boxes of 5, so it was a case of entering the serial numbers on a spreadsheet, labelling each one and then making a big pile of the smaller, white boxes. Opening the first few is fun, but it does get a little tiresome after a while!

The next step was to use Apple Configurator to do a simple bit of setting up, mainly just to set it so that a custom wallpaper and iPad name appears on the lock screen. To do this, I had to use the ‘supervise’ mode, which means the iPad can only be connected to the one Mac which you’re running Apple Configurator on. This could be a real pain with syncing carts and iTunes, but I’m planning on running a completely ‘cloud’ setup, requiring no wired syncing, so this should be ok.

I didn’t manage to figure out how to deploy configuration profiles at this point, as I was hoping to set up wifi using a configuration setting rather than doing it manually. I didn’t finish them all though, so I might try that when I finish setting up the rest of them.

Here’s what’s left to do:

  • Create all the relevant Apple IDs (one per class)
  • Create @me.com email addresses
  • Decide on and download the apps on one iPad per class
  • Backup that iPad to iCloud and then restore it to the other iPads in the class set
  • Put on Parental Controls to stop apps being deleted
  • Set up iWork apps with an internal WebDAV server
  • Setup classroom macs so that downloads from iTunes automatically install on the class iPads
  • Put in cases and deploy!

Not too much really!