Monday, September 8, 2014

Getting Rid of Hiccups

Just a little over a month ago we started returning 3,000 iPads to students after collecting them on the last day of school.  It's not been easy month with so many things changing technically since last year. We have run into numerous hiccups.

First and foremost, Apple's new requirement for every student to have an Apple ID has not been easy to implement. We want students to be able to personalize their iPad. For example, using their own Apple ID allows them to have their music, photos streams, iCloud services, and more. However, relying on each individual to create an Apple ID dramatically increases the number of variables and problems (hiccups) that can happen.  Helping students verify Apple IDs, retrieve passwords, set up a new Apple ID, in some cases create a new email account and a second Apple ID, and more is frustrating for the students, their parents, and staff. Trying to troubleshoot problems has become quite a time-consuming process for a few cases.

For our older students, we have all asked them to use their personal Apple ID or create one, and this has worked well for most. Occasionally, some kids who made a brand-new Apple ID have run into issues when Apple requires a credit card for the set up process. The pattern of when this happens, whether it is using personal email address or their school Gmail account, has not been an easy one to figure out and prevent. For students under age 13, we have worked with parents to have them request an Apple ID for their child, yet even after verifying their ID online, some of those accounts still require a credit card. We created this Apple ID FAQ guide and are updating it continuously as we learn more.

Besides Apple ID issues, we've had other hiccups, too.  We're asking all students with the help of their teachers to complete checklist of steps to set up their iPad. Like our Apple ID FAQ page, this checklist is a Google doc which we can update live. All students have a web clip icon on their iPad which goes to this checklist so they always have the most current directions and instructions. August has been busy working with with lots of students as they pick up their iPad and work to set it up.

For our 1,600 seventh and eighth-grade students new to iPads, we began handing out devices last week and are continuing today and tomorrow. We distribute the iPads in a small group of two to three classes per hour as pictured above.  We spend about a 45 minutes walking students through the initial set up process, getting them enrolled in our MDM AirWatch system and making sure they successfully download a few apps. Over the next few days teacher will walk students through the remaining steps on the previously mentioned checklist. Each teacher will take a step or two per hour to make sure that the students have all successfully completed the steps and don't have hiccups.  At the high school, we are using the morning announcements to have daily items that teachers check, all with the goal of eliminating as many hiccups as possible.

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