Updated 06/23/2012

A Texas colleague recently shared the following list of questions relevant to iPad implementation…rather than respond to them in a “closed” environment, i thought I’d post them here and invite folks to pitch in and help sharing their approaches.  I like going through questions like this because it helps unearth questions that my team and I haven’t considered, as well as revisit questions and responses we have.

Here’s the original prompt:

Our district has purchased a number of iPads over the past year. It started as admin devices and then some teacher devices were added and now some have purchased iPads with the intention that students will share them. (ex: class sets/grade level sets) Our experience is that iPads are designed to be individual user devices but due to limited budgets, our users are trying to use them in a multi-user setup. If you are utilizing iPads in your district (especially if you’re using them with students & they’re sharing the devices), would you please share your experiences. 

The following are questions that have come up in our district. We are a Windows based district with limited funds and do not have any Mac servers or iPad management program (ex: Casper). We are a district with 14,300+ students, 24 campuses & limited tech staff, and we’re trying to figure out the best way to implement iPads and support them. So far, we have about 200 iPads districtwide.

Below is my interpretation of the extensive research a team of folks has been engaged in. I humbly acknowledge them here while stating that we are open to new approaches and ways of doing things. That is to say, I get the credit for incorrect representations of research and ideas, and they get the credit if it is accurate. My goal is to share the information for greater transparency and identification of errors in approach so we can improve.

Questions are in bold, responses follow each question.

1) Are iPads being purchased in your district for staff and/or student use?If so, are they assigned to individuals or are they a shared device (ex: a class set for student use or grade level set for student use)?

Yes, iPads are being purchased for use by staff (who are issued one individually) and students (who check one out for use from a cart and they can’t take them home).

2) Size of your district? About how many iPads do you currently have?
9100 students and about 450 iPads to be deployed at the start of Fall, 2012. Planning for the initiative started long before I joined the team, and yet there’s been plenty to learn together!

3) How are you handling apps? (on staff devices & student devices, especially shared devices)
On individual devices (staff), staff have the ability to load apps. On shared student devices, apps are handled via  Macbook Pro Sync Station and loaded using Apple Configurator. You may want to read this blog entry.

  • When should you use Apple Configurator? Use it when…
    1. you want to get your iPad devices on the network and enrolled into your MDM solution (i.e. Profile Manager or 3rd party MDM) and 
    2. you need to upload VPP codes to install apps, especially if the institution wants to retain ownership of those apps. 
  • If you use Apple Configurator you will still need a sync station (Macbook Pro or Mac Mini) for your cart. Apple Configurator is USB only and replaces iTunes to sync multiple devices. As a side note, if the institution wants to retain ownership of those apps you must bring the iOS device back to the original Apple Configurator sync station to update those apps.
  • Take some time to review the iPad Deployment Guide from Apple.
  • Every Friday at 11:00 am there is a one hour free live webinar on deploying iOS devices with Apple Configurator.  Register here
Since Apple Configurator is “USB only” you will probably want to have a cart that allows synching. Here is a list of carts that accomplish that.
Another question I would consider responding to–do you need a mobile device management (MDM) system?Not really, although it  is nice. You can install Meraki’s Cloud Controller and companion iPad app on the device so you can collect information about what’s on your network; it doesn’t require you to use their switches or wireless access points (although you get more information that way). 

4) Volume Purchase Program?
Yes, You might want to check out this particular process.

5) Staff purchasing themselves?
Currently, staff using district-provided iTunes Gift Card to purchase apps. Tech staff and teacher have the iTunes account info, however, the teacher lacks access to the email address associated with the Apple ID.

6) If a staff member leaves the district, do the apps go with them or do you attempt to transfer them to another iTunes id? (i.e. rename the iTunes id & change the password — we found any other way to transfer the apps)

iTunes Accounts:
Who has the iTunes account login/pwd info? (especially for shared devices)
Some have assigned individual iPads their own email account specific to that iPad. That way, if the person who has it leaves, the apps stay with the school district rather than go with the individual.

The process of purchasing apps to be installed on multiple student devices for instruction and productivity purposes within the EC3 project will be conducted as follows*:

  • Completed purchase requests should be submitted to the Instructional Technology Specialist and Technology Department secretary for review.
  • Upon approval, the Technology Department secretary will make the appropriate purchases in the Apple Volume Purchase Program and notify the Instructional Technology Specialist when purchases are complete.
  • The Instructional Technology Specialist will then provide the teacher with the codes to be redeemed in the iTunes store.

App Selection Process (developed by Mary Ray)

The process of selecting and evaluating apps to be used for instruction and productivity purposes within the project will be conducted as follows:

  • Training will be provided to teachers participating in the m-learning project to assist them in the evaluation of apps for the iPad. Guidelines will be provided and teachers will be instructed in the use of app evaluation rubrics, such as this one developed by Kathy Schrock (

  • Grade level and subject area teams will be formed to facilitate collaboration in the app evaluation/selection process.

  • A Google form will be shared with team members as part of the evaluation/selection process. Teachers will submit information regarding specific apps that they wish to purchase for evaluation purposes. Requests will be reviewed by the Executive Planning Team to ensure unnecessary duplication.

  • Each teacher will be given a $25.00 iTunes gift card to be redeemed through their designated district iTunes account.  These funds will then be used to purchase apps approved by the Executive Planning Team.

  • Grade level and subject area teams will report their findings and make recommendations to the group as to the instructional merit of evaluated apps.

  • Apps selected for instructional use must then be requisitioned through the Technology Department for purchase in the Apple Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) before the apps can be installed on student devices. See Appendix D – Volume Purchase Program.

7) How are your iTunes account setup, especially for shared devices? Are you using 1 account on multiple devices?

8) Who loads the software and the updates?
The classroom teacher does using a Macbook Pro with Apple Configurator. We’ve also included an external hard drive to automatically backup the Macbook Pro so we don’t lose content (e.g. iPad apps). To the best of our knowledge after listening to various Mobile Device Management Solution (MDMs) vendors, speaking with Apple and other school districts, this is the best way to handle app deployment. We did investigate setting up a Lion OS X server, but found it to be imperfect at best. You can read the results of research online here.

Consider this approach for less cost to more.

9) How are you handling printing and requests to access network home directories? (in a Windows based network infrastructure)
We set up Airprint software (for Windows computers…read these instructions) in key locations (or planned to but decided to wait until we get some requests…our goal is to be paperless). We are not using network home directories, instead preferring OwnCloud setup.

10) Are you having staff &/or students use cloud based resources to offset some of the iPad limitations (ex: Dropbox, Evernote, SkyDrives, etc.)? 

(last updated 6/23/2012)
There are several possibilities….

Option A: In a cart scenario, consider using iFiles ($3.99). It allows you to connect your photo stream, camera roll (videos and photos) to webdav, Dropbox, GoogleDocs and other cloud-based solutions. You might also ask yourself, what Office suite you want to use. There are various ones available, including iWorks (webdav support), or QuickOffice HD (about $16 and great if you’re into MS Office products and features GoogleDocs integration).

Option B: In an individually assigned ipad Implementation, I would definitely get iFiles ($3.99) and consider  going with QuickOffice HD, Documents-To-Go Premium, you need a solution that will allow students to login and out and access their work from home, or anywhere.

If you are trying to keep student work on your own server (which will be difficult because of solutions like and solutions), you will want to investigate the OwnCloud solution–which is free except for the cost of setting up a server on your network–in this blog post, Sharing iPad content in the Private Cloud. Here is an excerpt:

Another approach…to consider is, a free open source Dropbox-alternative that you can host on your own server (e.g. UbuntuLinux, Mac and Windows supported). What I like about OwnCloud is that you can drop files on there pretty easily via a web-based interface, share them via a public link with others, and it provides WebDav support…and, the neat part, it works with iPad apps that have WebDav support!

11) What iPad training are you providing to your staff?

You can find a list online here.

12) Any specific policies or procedures you’ve had to add due to the addition of iPads?
We’ve revised our Acceptable Use Policy and transitioned to a Responsible Use Agreement (RUA)

13) Do you turn on restrictions for student iPads? If so, what do you restrict?
Yes, we are still discussing what exactly. Any suggestions aside from keeping them from adding apps or deleting them?

14) Who has the password to change the restrictions (tech staff, campus admins, the teacher)?
Tech staff, and the teacher.

15) Is your current wireless infrastructure able to handle all of these devices, or are you having to add due to the increase in demand?
No, we’ve actually had to do the following:

  1. Place a wireless access point in every classroom with additional controllers
  2. Purchased Cisco Identity Services Engine (ISE) to track users (also part of our BYOT pilot)
  3. A server to house OwnCloud to provide 3-5 gigs of storage to students/staff using iPads.
  4. A detailed list of budget expenditures and hardware can be found online.

16) If a user drops an iPad & the screen cracks, who is responsible for repairs/repair costs? The campus/department or user?
Great question. Who is responsible if a child or teachers drops a textbook and it splits down the middle?

17) Are you purchasing the AppleCare Plus on the iPads ($99 per device for 2 years)?

18) At what point do you feel an MDM is necessary? (MDM = mobile device management system)
After researching it, I do not feel an MDM is necessary given what they can or, more importantly, cannot do. The reason why is that Apple has limited what MDMs can do and pushed management down to classroom teachers.

19) Do your student users have email accounts that are set up on the iPads?
I would encourage them to use web-based email rather than setup the Mail app.

20) How are you handling Internet Filtering on iPads (especially those that are taken outside of your network)?
Student iPads are not currently allowed off school property, so filtering is handled in-house. No filtering for staff iPads has been done. We have also not allowed installation of Puffin Web browser since it can bypass content filtering in the District.

And, finally, three questions that were not asked:

21) How are you branding the iPads?
We’re creating a standard wallpaper with logo and contact information for each campus so that folks who pick up the iPad will know it’s a district iPad and what campus it belongs to.

22) Are you creating a school or district app?
Yes, we are taking the Judson ISD approach–using Conduit Mobile–for now to app creation. You can read about it in detail here.

Using the Conduit Mobile platform, Judson ISD were able to create their own mobile app, which features the school district’s news, social media activity, photos, sports schedules and scores, videos, and bully reporting. The Judson ISD app is available for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, free of charge, from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Android Market. The app was built entirely in-house and required a minimal amount of staff time.
Steve Young is very proud of the results, claiming “Conduit Mobile allowed Judson ISD’s IT staff to rapidly and easily conceive an idea for a mobile app and execute that idea into reality in less than a month.  I would highly recommend the Conduit Mobile platform to any organization looking to get into mobile app development, but that does not want to spend large amounts of money on hiring a development company.
The Judson ISD staff are already planning a few additions to their app, among which is the ParentCenter module, which allows parents to check their kids’ grades and attendance – a feature which should greatly enhance the app’s appeal to parents. (Source)

23) How do you share your iPad apps list with others, say for professional learning?
You can do this in a variety of ways…some folks–like Jennifer Wagner–take screenshots and drop them into Pinterest, while others (like Craig Nansen) use I gravitate towards the second approach, although you have to install a program on your Mac or Windows computer…I’d prefer something like a sharing app I saw on Android that compiles the list then emails it to you with links to where you can download it:

Craig Nansen This is a list of all the installed Apps I had on my iPad when I made the list – 736 of them. I have a 64GB iPad 🙂 and then a list of 68 recommended Apps I share during presentations –