Friday, March 23, 2012

Wireless Trial and Error

iPads are great at getting connected to most wireless networks. Homes, Starbucks, McDonalds: no problem. But we've had quite a bit of difficulties getting our iPads on our district's enterprise network and staying on. Apparently this is something that Apple hasn't addressed with their devices.

In our district (like all schools) we have a variety of devices to support. This year has seen a ton of iPads join the network. I'm not sure that Apple knew or prepared for the proliferation of its devices in schools. The latest we've heard is that iPad doesn't like enterprise networks, which is what schools or large businesses would use to protect their network and data.

Our network has two wireless networks: an open one and a hidden one. We are connecting all our CPS purchased devices to the hidden network. It's been a work in progress, and our wireless specialists have done a great job troubleshooting the devices and spending lots of time on the phone with Apple. Here is our current setup:

We are installing the hidden network on the CPS devices. The profile we are using contains a certificate that is specific to our system and the iPad. Once we have it installed, we choose "forget this network" for the open wireless. We think this step will help the iPad stay less confused by only trying to connect to one. That's the device side of it.

Our current bandaid is to set up the access points to only look for the 2.4 ghz radio. Our AP's have a 2.4 and a 5. This step can be done remotely and with a reboot of the AP's, the iPads will only be using one radio. Of course, this restricts the number of devices on each AP because we've cut out one radio. But as of now, it's been a big help in getting the devices connected and staying connected.

We're thinking that over the summer, we could create a separate network only for the iPads. This step will help out the laptops in their connections. Not a great solution, but one that could work to help out all devices.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Automatic Download con't: Deployment tips

I love finding some time to add to the blog. Here are some quick tips and information about the art of mass iPad deployment:

1. Set up the ipads to download automatically
2. When apps are added automatically, they won't magically go to a folder. You will have to manually move each app on each ipad to the desired location. Unfortunately, it won't copy your movements from one to the others.
3. Deleted apps has to occur manually on every device. I wish you could delete from one ipad or from iTunes and apply to all, but that's not the case.
4. Use configuration profiles!

It sure would be nice if four steps were all it took! Feel free to email me with any questions or advice!

Automatic download for "cart iPads"

I feel like a slacker for taking so long to get a new post up. Time is flying by before spring break around here. I wanted to give some information that will really help with the installation of a few apps on a lot of iPads. We have several deployments in CPS of multiple "cart" iPads. This means that all the ipads carry the same image of apps, websites, and restrictions. To save yourself a lot of time, you should set up your iPads to install apps automatically. Here's what you need to do.

First, you have to set up your ipads to sync up with iCloud. You can access this through the settings tab under iCloud. I like to turn off all the extra syncing through iCloud, like the email, calendar, photo sync, and notes. Those will just bog down your cart. You should also think about disabling documents and data. That will share documents across all the iPads like your Keynote and Pages documents. Unfortunately, you will have to manually enter the iCloud information unless you installed the image from iCloud backup. See my earlier post about imaging.

Once you have the iCloud set up, scroll down in settings to access the "store" options. You will need to turn on the automatic download for "App". You could also turn on music and books if you'd like, but that's not something we've used yet. I've made it a habit to move out and return to the store screen to make sure the app download stays on. I've seen it turn itself off several times, so double check that one.

Finally, on your iTunes preferences on your desktop, you need to make sure that one box is not checked. Under iTunes preferences, you will need to visit the tab for "devices". There is an option that reads "prevent iPods, iPhones, and iPads from syncing automatically". Make sure that is NOT CHECKED. It will prevent the automatic download from occurring.

Now you are ready to go. I would always perform a test download to make sure thing are working properly. If you haven't already, you'll want to develop a procedure for teachers to request apps. It's no big deal to install a few at a time, but mass installs take a lot of work. So protect your time by setting up a procedure that supports teachers and keeps you working efficiently.

Friday, March 9, 2012

AirPlay Mirroring with Reflection Part II

I got to use Reflection yesterday in a training for the first time. Wow, what a difference! In case you missed yesterday's post, this app will change how you teach with your iPad. It was so simple to download, but you have to carry a PayPal account to purchase.

Anyway, it is so much easier to walk teachers through apps. Just like teaching in a real classroom, it gives you the flexibility to be with the learners instead of tied to your cable. You can be so much more efficient when you are able to instruct while looking over shoulders to see how they are progressing. You have to check it out! Well worth the money.

And did I mention earlier that you can have multiple devices mirrored at the same time!

I showed off Reflection today when working with some junior high teachers. Just as teachers do, they immediately started thinking of classroom applications. One had a great idea to put multiple iPads on the screen in order to quickly compare work. And because all it takes is a push of a button, it would be so simple to have students quickly mirror their device, show off what they are working on, and then log off to give someone else a turn. What a powerful way to display student work!

That's it for this week. Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

iPad Mirroring to your Mac

Great news!!

Just read this from Tony Vincent's blog and it's pretty exciting for mac/iPad users. There's a new program for your mac called Reflection. It sets up AirPlay for your mac. Now you don't need an Apple TV to mirror your iPad. It runs on any mac with iOS 10.6 or later.

So simple to use. Just install the Reflection on your mac. You can test it out for free for ten minutes. I know, pretty ridiculous teaser. Once installed, double tap your home button on the iPad to access the iPod controls. Press the mirroring button and you are up and running. It refreshes nearly instantaneously. I found it could get behind at first but then gets caught up and moves seamlessly. We also found that it launches QuickTime on the mac when a video is played. You can also have multiple devices showing on one screen. Kerry set hers up after mine and her iPad popped up on my macbook.

The pricing right now is $14.99 for one user and $49.99 for five licenses. Very affordable, especially for those of us who present from the iPad and macbook at the same time. No more unplugging!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Using Google Calendar for iPad Scheduling

One of the biggest issues you'll have once you get your iPad cart set up is that everyone is going to want to use it. And that's a great problem to have! An easy way to communicate when the iPads are available is to share a calendar. So it's time to ditch that clipboard you have sitting on your desk!!

Setting up a Google Calendar is quick and easy. Once you are signed in to Google, you can access the calendar from the menu bar on the top of your search page. On the left toolbar under "My Calendars", choose the drop down arrow and select "Create new calendar". Once you name it, you need to make it public in the shared settings. Google Calendar has very straight forward sharing options. Unless you have specifically shared it with another user, other viewers can only view. So you can share the link or embed the calendar in your website.

Finally it's time for scheduling. I would suggest having faculty send you an email so you can add their names to the schedule. I'm sure it wouldn't happen in your school, but I've heard of times where teachers erase their colleagues' names from the schedule to "free up" time for themselves. With this method, everyone can view when the iPads are available, but only the iPad admin can schedule times.

Check out our own iPad Google Calendar to see how busy it is.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Configuration Profiles

Configuration profiles are a must-have for anyone deploying district iPads to students. Profiles let you control what the end user can and cannot do. It also is used for assigning wireless configurations. Setting up the profiles are relatively easy and free.

The first you will want to do is download the iPhone Configuration Utility. This is a free download that works for iPads as well. There are specific versions for PC and Mac. Once loaded on your computer, you can then set your profile up. It's fairly self-explanatory except for one issue that caused me issues the first time around.

When you get started, the first piece you need to fill out is the profile name and identifier. Use a specific name because you might choose to make multiple profiles. The identifier was what through me off the first time. You have to name it in a specific manner. Here is the right way. In the identifier option, you need to add a ".profile" to the end. Notice there is a period before the word profile. For example, say you want to create a profile for a school named Wayside Elementary. Your identifier would be "wayside.profile". You can then add a passcode to it so only authorized users can mess with the restrictions.

From there, you just go through the different categories and turn off what you don't want students to have access to. For some of our schools, we turned off FaceTime, in-app purchases, game center, iTunes store, and adjusted the content ratings. If you are going to sync your devices through iCloud and want apps to install remotely, you'll need to allow the App Store.

I know that's a lot of information, so feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Good luck, and happy profiling!