Since posting about our tablet devices, I have received a range of questions about their management so I decided to write two blog posts about how we have set them up and managed them within our school. These are similar steps for our Apple and Android devices. We currently have 10 iPads on our domain, 8 being used for monitoring children via the 2Simple Profile app in our pre-school and Early Years and 2 iPads used for SLT for various monitoring tasks and for observations. We also currently have 108 Android tablets for use by children from Year 1 to Year 6.
To manage the devices, we have used Meraki from Cisco. This is free and is available here: https://account.meraki.com/secure/login/dashboard_login This post will show you some of the things that Meraki can do and what we have set up so far.
The first thing to do is to visit the website and click Create Account. It will ask you to verify your email address and then you can login and access the dashboard.
Once logged in, it will ask you to create a new network.
We gave it a name and then chose MDM for Mobile Device Management. I’m not sure what the other options do!
You are then given the option to add devices. You can add IOS, Windows, Android or Chromebooks. Our Chromebooks are managed by the Google Apps dashboard and I haven’t tried adding Windows devices.
There are two ways to add an Android device. The first is to download the Meraki Systems Manager app from Google Play. Once open, you click enrol and enter the 10digit code. Alternatively, visit the mobile website and enter the code on there. This will then ask you to install the app anyway. Please note, this isn’t our real code, this is a mock account for the purpose of this blog post.
For IOS devices, this works in a very similar way. There are a few certification steps along the way where you have to verify things with Apple, but it is easy enough to add a device using the steps provided.
Once some devices have been added, it would be useful to create a profile. For IOS this gives you the ability to lock certain features e.g. turning off Siri or Facetime or blocking apps from installing. It also allows you to set a passcode for all devices.
For us, the most important part on the profile page is to setup the Wifi. We were able to assign the Wifi name (SSID) and the password and proxy settings. This was then pushed to all devices within our Meraki domain. We set this up and then added all of our devices, once enrolled, they automatically collect the settings. If you have added devices already, simply click the sync option on the app and it will re-download them.
Once the devices have been added, they will show on the Monitor>Clients page. From here, you can click on each device and rename it. You can also see the serial code, useful for inventory purposes and it also shows other information such as which version of the operating system is running, which apps are installed and which are missing. It also shows a map to give a rough location of the device.
From the MDM>Apps page, you can choose which apps to install on the devices.
For Android, you simply click Add New and then search the Google Play store. Pressing add and then save will send a link to this app to all of your devices.
You can also click on an app you have used previously and re-push it to any devices that haven’t installed it yet.
For IOS devices, the process is similar but you will need to register for VPP (Volume Purchasing Program) so that you can buy the apps at a discounted rate and then install them on multiple devices. This can take a little while to go through as when you register for VPP, Apple will check your identity and that you belong to a real school. Once this has all been done, you can add the information from your VP account into Meraki. Free apps work in a similar way to the Android apps above.
For Apple devices, the Organization>MDM page will highlight the various certificates and approvals that you will need to get things working. It doesn’t take long, but it is another step in the process.
We have only just started using Meraki, but it seems like a fab free tool for managing lots of devices. There are lots of things that it can;t do e.g. setting up each device to look the same or updating the operating system, but for the basics, it does them very well.