Unity in Diversity: Managing Windows, macOS, and iOS in the Classroom

Every teacher and curriculum developer faces the same challenge. How best to deliver instruction that acknowledges and works with individual students’ needs and differences, yet maximizes success for the entire class? Increasingly, teachers and technology administrators face analogous challenges where classroom computing is concerned. Fortunately, experiences and solutions forged in corporate enterprises can help.

Technological Diversity: Lessons from the Enterprise 

In April 2017, respected enterprise technology analysts at Enterprise Management Associates® (EMA™) published a white paper entitled “Managing Apple Devices in a Windows World.” Here is a quote from the Executive Summary of that document. 

“While Windows PCs continue to comprise the core of business end user computing solutions, Apple macOS computers and iOS mobile devices are increasingly being adopted to satisfy evolving workforce requirements and preferences.  is accelerating environment heterogeneity has exponentially amplified administration challenges for device provisioning, maintenance, and problem management. To meet the growing end user requirements, processes and solutions must be adopted that provide a unified approach to endpoint management while also addressing the unique requirements specific to Apple devices.” 

Primary research conducted by EMA found that “enterprise adoption of Mac desktops and laptops has increased 27% in the past three years.” Apple’s introduction of the iPhone and iPad increased its presence in enterprise networks even more emphatically. Thanks to those iOS devices, Apple is now “supplying 37% of enterprise smartphones and 41% of enterprise tablets (edging out both Android and Windows devices). Currently, about 20% of all workers regularly employ an iOS device to perform job tasks.”  

This situation may be great for enterprise users who prefer Apple devices, but it creates significant challenges for those managing enterprise technologies, as EMA points out in its white paper. “Managing heterogeneous environments becomes exponentially complex in relation to the number of platforms in the support stack. … Apple device architectures have some very unique management requirements, and administration processes designed to support other platforms, such as Windows, will not translate well to delivering comprehensive support on Apple devices.”

Apple and Ivanti Solutions Ease Diversity Management Challenges 

EMA found that 52 percent of enterprises “currently rely on a mix of both Apple and non-Apple devices for their end user productivity.” The percentage of classrooms populated by both Apple and non-Apple devices is likely at least as high in some regions, and may be even higher in others. 

Apple has taken several steps to ease deployment and management of its devices in classroom environments. In 2016, Apple introduced Apple School Manager and its Classroom iPad app. Apple School Manager consolidates access to previously separate Apple resources, including its Volume Purchase Plan (VPP) for apps and books, its Device Enrollment Program (DEP), and its Apple ID for Students Program. Apple School Manager enables administrators to manage, distribute, and reclaim application licenses that were assigned to specific users or devices under the VPP. The solution also supports Managed Apple IDs, the ability for schools to assign and retain control over Apple IDs that previously required students to obtain parental permission, then sign up individually. 

The Classroom app enables teachers to manage and see a classroom full of iPads. It also supports multiple user accounts on each device for easier sharing. This can make iPads available in situations where it is impractical to provide a dedicated device to each student. In March 2017, Apple released version 2.0 of Classroom. The update adds the ability for teachers to create classes and invite students to join them manually, with no IT intervention required. (Teacher and student iPads must be running iOS 10.3 or newer, however.)

Apple School Manager also communicates and shares information with solutions from other vendors, including Ivanti. Ivanti offers a fully cross-platform solution that combines endpoint management for Mac and Windows and mobile device management for Android, iOS, and Windows mobile devices. Specific capabilities include the following. 

  • Complete inventory of more than 700 information items related to the hardware, user, and installed software 
  • Ability to attach custom information items for tracking cost centers, class information, class schedules, and other items useful for better reporting on, and configuring, computers 
  • Deployment of OS upgrades and updates across all Mac and Windows platforms present and future, including patented technology that images Macs while in use 
  • Complete remote configuration of devices, easing reliance on non-technical people, as well as full screen-sharing and remote control 

Apple School Manager enables rapid, easy deployment of iPads ready for students to use and compliant with district and school requirements quickly and easily. Using Apple School Manager in tandem with Ivanti solutions, IT administrators can order devices through the Apple DEP, pull data into the Ivanti console, and manage the configuration of those devices. Instead of IT staff having to configure thousands of devices, they can configure a dozen policies, customize the out-of-the-box user experience before the district receives the devices, and hand out devices literally still shrink-wrapped.

Ivanti handles all platforms and operating system versions—current and future—so school districts can future-proof their endpoint management solution. The combination of Apple School Manager and Ivanti solutions gives teachers and classroom technology administrators comprehensive, granular control over all leading classroom computing platforms, today and tomorrow.

Click here to download the Ivanti white paper, Teachers in Charge, IT in Control, to learn more about Ivanti solutions.You may also be interested in this white paper from industry research firm Enterprise Management Associates titled Managing Apple Devices in a Windows World. Then, contact Ivanti to see how we can help your educational institution manage diverse technologies in ways that maximize their benefits for your students and teachers.