How Hard Is It To Get iPads Into The Hands Of Thousands Of Students?

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Lexington School District One in South Carolina shows what it takes to to roll out iPads to thousands of students.
Lexington School District One in South Carolina shows what it takes to roll out iPads to thousands of students.

Many school districts around the country are embarking on new territory this back to school season – deploying hundreds or thousands of iPads to students. Most of the deployments will be one-to-one initiatives where every student receives a school-owned iPad to use for this school year or their entire scholastic career. Planning such a roll out isn’t easy, but schools and districts making the shift this year have the advantage of looking what worked and didn’t work from counterparts that pioneered the iPad in the classroom last year.

One school district, Lexington County School District One of South Carolina, has served as a model for many other schools around the country. The district offers a lot of insight into the technical requirements, education policy issues, and roll out processes in such a colossal undertaking.

Apple Is Still Failing When It Comes To Selling Apps To Businesses And Schools

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Apple's volume purchase program falls short for many schools and businesses.
Apple's volume purchase program falls short for many schools and businesses.

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) is the company’s half-hearted attempt to deliver some form of enterprise licensing program for the iOS App Store. The program does make it marginally easier for businesses to bulk purchase and deploy apps to iPhones and iPads than telling employees to buy apps and then reimbursing them, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. As we reported earlier this summer, many businesses and school still feel Apple doesn’t meet their app purchase and deployment needs.

Mobile app management (MAM) vendor App 47 summed up some of the key issues and how it can help companies deal with them as part of the company’s summer lecture series on app management.

Apple Configurator Gets Quiet, Incremental Update

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Apple Configurator update brings stability and performance improvements, but few new management options.
Apple Configurator update brings stability and performance improvements, but few new management options.

Apple quietly updated its Apple Configurator utility that businesses and schools can use to manage iOS devices. The update brings with it relatively little new functionality to the free tool. Instead it focuses mainly on reliability and performance improvements. The update does, however, introduce some options for handling user content and user-installed apps.

Apple Reminds Teachers And IT Pros About Free Web iPad-In-Education Webcast Series

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Apple is offering free webcasts on using iPads, iBooks Author, and iTunes in education
Apple is offering free webcasts on using iPads, iBooks Author, and iTunes in education

One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.

With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.

How To Handle Content Filtering For iPads In The Classroom (And At Home)

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Mass iPad deployments in schools bring new challenges when it comes to filtering laws and regulations
Mass iPad deployments in schools bring new challenges when it comes to filtering laws and regulations.

Technology in the education sector, particularly for K-12 schools, often poses unique challenges not seen in business or enterprise organizations. The iPad is a great example. As we noted yesterday, BYOD is generally not a good idea for school environments. That means effective iPad deployments are typically managed by schools and education IT staff.

There are plenty of stories out there about schools moving forward with one-to-one iPad deployments (we’ve run two this week – one about the massive iPad investment by San Diego’s school district and one on East Alton’s decision to lease iPads instead of buying them). One-to-one initiatives, in which each student gets his or her own device for use in class and at home, are generally considered a much more effective and ideal model than when students sharing devices during to school hours.

One-to-one programs, which were first established for laptops, can be challenging because such programs need to take into consideration that the iPads will be used at home. One area where this creates problems for schools is the need to comply with filtering regulations.