Thursday, March 21, 2013

To Supervise or Not to Supervise.....

Deploying a fleet of iPads in a 1:1 environment? Are you planning to use Apple Configurator? Will you Supervise the devices? So many questions....

If you decide to Supervise the devices, bear in mind that students will not be able to plug their iPad into their computer and back up their data at home. Backups can only be performed on the actual machine that supervised the device.

This could be problematic. If you are unable to back up the devices on a regular basis and an iPad gets lost or broken to the point that a backup is not possible, data loss can occur. A good safety net is to have students set up iCloud. Not only will this ensure that their data is backed up, but if you must replace their device, when you restore from iCloud, all apps will automatically download and placed into the folders they were in previously. It will be as if you have simply cloned the device. A restore via Apple Configurator will not put everything back where it was: students will have to re-download all apps and recreate their folders.

If you are not using a Mobile Device Management system like Lightspeed or Meraki in tandem with the Configurator and want to use Exchange ActiveSync for email, you will either have to manually enter the student's information, or provide them instruction on setting up their own email. Some MDM solutions like Lightspeed will push out the settings and once the student enrolls their device will be prompted for their email password and setup will occur automatically.

Oddly enough, if you look in the Exchange ActiveSync pane of Configurator, the information presented there implies that you can indeed have the iPad prompt for credentials. You are told that if you want the device to prompt for username and password to leave the domain and username fields blank; however, if you do that, you will be warned that if the devices are Supervised, these fields cannot be left blank. So I suppose it does work, but only if the device is unsupervised.

Supervising the devices enables features that you will not be able to control if not Supervised. For example, if you'd like to disable iMessage, FaceTime, Siri's Profanity Filter, Game Center the Bookstore or just erotica from the bookstore, you will need to Supervise the iPads to enforce these restrictions.

There is a pretty good selection of settings that you an implement with the Configurator but to me it works best if used alongside an MDM.

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