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.

By allowing our students and faculty to be administrators on their own machines we are empowering them to be owners of their devices while teaching them that its okay to explore, make mistakes and learn.

We require that each of the students study a “Driver’s Manual” – – and pass a “Driver’s Test” in order to get their license to drive their laptop, to “own” it.  We use these two tools to teach the proper care and feeding of the device.

Everyone is responsible for doing their own systems updates, installing their own printers and software, backing up their own devices — we provide them with a 500GB drive for Time Machine backups — and if they have a question, need help or have a problem they can come in to one of our Tech Centers and talk to an Apple Certified Tech or member of our Ed Tech Department.

Our management platform, Casper, allows us to do all this while maintaining a level of control and management to best support our faculty and students.  We use Casper’s Self-Service tool to provide shortcuts to downloads and scripts that do a whole host of things, from installing a print driver to running a maintenance script that can help improve the performance of the device. It also gives us a small window into the device to make sure the everything is running the way it should (our Privacy Policy).

Throughout all of this, we are trying to teach the responsible use and ownership of technology devices. When students are home, away at camp or graduate and move on to college and the world beyond they will not have a full-time IT department at their disposal.  They will need to be problem solvers and know what to do when they have an issue.

The devices we chose for our 1:1 pro­grams and how we choose to manage them within our envi­ron­ments should not only reflect and sup­port the type of teach­ing and learn­ing we want to see hap­pen in our class­room, but should also reflect what’s happening out­side those rooms and in the world at large.


About William Stites

Currently the Director of Technology for Montclair Kimberley Academy, "Blogger in Chief" for, husband and father to two crazy kids who make me smile everyday.
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