Uncovering iOS 9.3 for Education

iOS-9.3-logo-full-sizeWith the release of iOS 9.3 Apple will have finally taken steps bring true management to the iPad.

While information can be found on the Apple web site there are still many questions and answers needed. While attending the NEIT (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) conference I had the opportunity to sit in on a session and get deeper insights and this is what I found.

iOS 9.3 will provide a shared model for iPads, not a multi-user experience. Students will be able to login to an account, though the manner in which they authenticate has yet to be determined. Your MDM, Apple ID or Active Directory may provide an answer. Students will have fast accost their materials which will be synced to each device via a mechanism possibly tied to Apple’s Caching Server. All of the apps the student will be using must be installed on the device and the amount of space needed per student account (possibly up to 6GB, though this is still a major question) will allow for fast access, but significantly limit the number of students that will be able to share the device along with the actual size of the device used as information will be stored on the local device.

If you are familiar with Casper Focus, Apple will be providing a similar tool in the Classroom app with iOS 9.3. The tool will allow teachers to distribute data, allow for the editing of that data and bring it back to the teacher. Again, the details of which as still unclear, but the it will again integrate with your existing MDM and LMS. This will offload a lot of the management and give teacher more flexibility with their iPads. They will be able to see all of the iPads at once, capture and share that device with all of the other devices.

All of this will be accomplished through the next two pieces: Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs.

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Disabling “Find My Mac” on retired equipment.

Find_My_MacWhen hiring you always want to surround yourself with people smarter than you are and I have the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented people. We come up against problems everyday and even try to think of the things that might present problems in the future.

The subject of this post is one where we were thinking about all of the things we would need to do as we go in this summer where we will be retiring over 1000 devices. We have a checklist of things that we need to ask our user (faculty and students as young as 4th grade) to do before returning their equipment as well as a laundry list of things we have to do as well.

One of the issues surrounds that of how to handle the services associate with an AppleID. There are things you need to do with you iTunes account (deauthorizing the device) and you iCloud account amongst other things. It is the “Find My Mac” feature that presents an interesting problem.

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Passwords, phishing and protecting yourself. Tips and lessons.


[Examples Gallery Update: 9/4/2014]

With the recent compromise of a number of celebrities iCloud Photo Streams there is, yet again, more focus on passwords, security and how to protect yourself.

In the case of this most recent attack the perpetrators simply attempted to use a number of common passwords along with figuring out the security questions to compromise the accounts in question.  Apple has denied that iCloud was hacked by exploiting a hole in the “Find My iPhone” feature and that any exposed issue has been patched.

OK… but now what?

We need to better educate ourselves, our faculty, our students on how to protect themselves and their information as we ask them to do more and more online.

A few tips:

  • To start, make sure you have a secure password. It should have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, include numbers and symbols and be greater than 8 characters long. Birth dates, anniversaries, family or pet names should be avoided as they can be easily guessed.
  • This may sound simple, but don’t share you password with anyone. In school this is something that we tell our students and faculty upfront. At our school we have ways to solve you technical problems without you having to give us your password and if you school or organization doesn’t have a way to do that be sure to change your password frequently.
  • Try using a password with a twist. If you don’t want to have a different password for every site and service you use try adding a prefix of suffix to your password for that particular service. You might use “MyS3cret_facebook” for Facebook and “MyS3cret_gmail” for your Google account.
  • Enable two-step or two-factor verification for your accounts. While this will only really protect you against people changing you account information or password it is an added level of security to take when trying to secure your information online.


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to “phish” and you feed him all your passwords…”

Phishing, as defined by Wikipedia is “… is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.

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Finally! An Apple ID for Students under 13.

COPPA_VPC_APPLEAfter much debate, discussion and begging by schools Apple has created a program that will allow student under the age of 13 to create Apple IDs.

This announcement was made along with a number of other improvements to the MDM platform in their “IT in the Classroom” series.

In short schools will need to enroll in an Apple program that will allow them to easily collect verifiable parental consent so that a parent can set-up the account. Once the student turns 13 the account is then transitioned to a full account with all rights and privileges.

This focus on 13 is a direct result of COPPA and the restrictions it places upon parents, students and schools when trying to use service that do not meet the guidelines set forth by the act.

The act has always had the provision that if schools were able to provide parental notification and consent they could use these services, however the enrollment process would often not allow students to use the correct information, such as their birth date, and would require them to lie. By creating this program Apple has moved a way from what Danah Boyd (@zephoira) referred to as a “culture of lying” between parents and their children when wanting to use non-COPPA compliant web sites and services.

For complete information on this new program see the following:

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Big Data? We need to focus on Little Data!


It’s everywhere!  People are talking about it in all aspects of life. Business, research, education, economics, socialnomics… you can’t escape it!


Data is everywhere and in everything that we do. If you’ve bought anything, searched for anything or signed up for anything online you’re part of big data.

Our schools gather data all the time on students, parents, faculty, the assignments given, the tests taken, all of it contributes to data used to measure schools and those inside their walls.

Dashboards, info-graphics, charts, spreadsheets and reports are issued using all of the data at our disposal to paint the clearest picture of how “things” are going. But how do we know that the data is right and those “things” are being reported on correctly?

Data is fraught with errors, omissions, and mis-entered information. It’s because of this that we need to focus on Little Data.

Mark Bonchek (@MarkBonchek) in the Harvard Business Review defines Little Data as:

what we know about ourselves. What we buy. Who we know. Where we go. How we spend our time…”

But what I am talking about is smaller than that, what I am talking about it how we manage the discrete pieces of data that we capture and enter before we can make use of any of this information, spot trends or make predictions.

Why do we need to focus on Little Data you might ask? Because we are only as good as our data.

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Make the Bretford PowerSync Cart for iPods work with your iPads

Bretford_R2D2How many of you are still using the classic iPod or iPod Touch in the classroom?

Many of you, like us, have moved from iPods to iPads and with this transition may be left with devices and hardware to repurpose or dispose of.

As we transition to iPad we were able to find people interested in the iPods, but were left with some of the carts we used to store, sync and power these devices.

The model cart we used was the Bretford PowerSync carts – model TL357LL/A – we had purchased  (affectionately referred to as R2D2). The cart did a very good job at helping us manage our iPods, but wasn’t configured properly to deal with our iPads.

Our iPads were going to be used on an as needed basis as part of a pilot program we were starting at our Middle (4-8) and Upper Schools (9-12). We needed to ensure that the devices would be able to be charged on a regular basis and if needed securely stored overnight, weekends and during holidays/vacations.

We had a problem to solve and “necessity is the mother of invention”.  Enter R2D2  and que Star Wars theme song!

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Using Evernote to Manage your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

A teacher is a life-long learner, a student by nature, and their learning process continues to grow and develop in many ways.

Experiences in their classroom, conferences, people they meet, colleagues, listservs, blogs and people they follow on Twitter or other social contribute to their ongoing learning process of.

All of these various ways of continuing their professional development and learning are generally referred to as their Personal Learning Network (PLN) and Evernote can help you manage all of it.

Here’s how to Evernote, the web clipper, your Evernote email and by following @MyEN can help you manage your PLN.

PLN_StackBefore we start, the first thing you will want to do is to create notebooks to organize your PLN.  If you’re working on learning a new pedagogical process or exploring a new curricular idea you’ll want a notebook for that.  You can even create a stack of notebooks to keep your entire PLN in one place.

Once you have the organization elements in place it’s time to get started.

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Evernote Business for Education


Yesterday, in an email announcement, Evernote opened up Evernote Business for education.

My first look at Evernote Business was when I attended last years Evernote Trunk Conference and heard the announcement of this new service.  While the focus was clearly on the “business” user, the offerings were very appealing to educational institutions as a whole and I was very excited.

Outside of the classroom schools function a lot like a business. There are groups of people meeting to go over projects or initiatives,  various offices that have information that they need to share amongst their members as well as school-wide (company-wide) information that needs to be disseminated.  The offerings in Evernote Business allow school to do this much easier.

Here are just a few of my early thoughts on how Evernote Business might fit into your school (K-12, college and university).

What might Business Notebooks look like in a school?

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Success is about sharing.

After work­ing for years on our school’s 1:1 Learn­ing Ini­tia­tive we are now com­ing to the end of our first three-year device cycle of and, it is helping us exam­ine, inves­ti­gate and reaf­firm where we are and what will be doing for the next three years.

sharing_successWe are taking into account all aspects of our pro­gram, lessons learned from our suc­cesses and fail­ures, con­ver­sa­tions with stu­dents, col­leagues and families, along with new research and exam­ples from other schools and institutions.

And of course we are sharing as much as we ever have with anyone who wants to learn from us.  Indeed, the sharing process has always helped to steer our program, and it, I believe, a hall­mark for any strong pro­gram, insti­tu­tion or leader.

Recently we hosted a site visit.  We hosted vis­i­tors from ten schools and five states, all interested in hearing about our pro­gram and seeing our school in action.  The is the third time in as many years that we’ve done this, and all told, we have hosted over 35 schools to date.

We run these events not only because we believe that we’ve had a successful program so far, but also because  they force us to think about what we are doing and explain our program in a way that will help other schools grow and develop. Sec­ond, we believe in pay­ing it for­ward  we are shar­ing as oth­ers have shared with us.

As we explored the pos­si­bil­ity of our own 1:1 Ini­tia­tive we went on the road and vis­ited a num­ber of schools and attended numer­ous con­fer­ences (see below) to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from those who came before us. From these vis­its, we learned a great deal about what we wanted to do (stu­dent lead­er­ship), what we needed to explore fur­ther (own­er­ship mod­els) and what we didn’t want to do (for­get about pro­fes­sional development).

The open­ness of oth­ers and their col­le­gial­ity helped us develop our pro­gram and have the suc­cess that we believe we’ve had to this day.

Shar­ing can hap­pen in a num­ber of ways and can be about the big and the small. Suc­cess in sharing shouldn’t be judged by size  only by the way it impacts those asso­ci­ted with it.  Truly, from small suc­cess, greater suc­cess can grow.

You don’t need to look far to find exam­ples of suc­cess and shar­ing that we can all learn from easily.

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Using device management to teach responsible use.

If you attend an educational technology conference, follow any of the Ed Tech listservs or are active on the Twitter hashtag #edtech you’re bound to find conversations on device management or deployment.

The conversations will generally revolve around how to image and deploy devices, applications (apps), mobile device management (MDM – iPad/Android) and pushing management settings to each device to control the environment.  You’ll hear about installing profiles or enrolling device in any one of over three dozen systems on the market (comparison chart).

But these con­ver­sa­tins often skip over an important question: what are you teaching?

Our school’s 1:1 “Learning” Initiative focuses on the teaching and learning that occurs with the device. For this reason, we don’t have a 1:1 “Laptop/iPad/Tablet/etc” Program. as the focus is on the learning.  The difference is subtle, but since we focus on the learn­ing, we say that.

Because of our focus on learning, we use our man­age­ment sys­tem to help instruct while main­tain­ing a degree of con­trol over the devices.

We use JAMF’s Casper (@JAMFSoftware) suite to manage our entire fleet of devices. On each managed device, the end-user (both faculty and students Grades 4-12) is an administrator.

While attending the JAMF Nation Conference, Damien Barrett (@damienbarrett) sat down and gave an interview on how our program works.

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