This year, we are transitioning from a pilot year of 300 student devices to our inaugural year of full implementation with about 900 student devices. With feedback from teachers stating that they were ready to go and wanted to be able to use the device asap with students, we decided to attempt an iPad distribution day before the school year started. So, we started to put plans into place!
Some things you should know about our distribution are that we had summer employees tag, scan, and assign iPads to students. They also had the fun job of removing them from their boxes, labeling the iPad for the student, and placing the iPad in our new cases. We are using Apple’s new Mobile Device Management program this year and parents were asked throughout the summer to create an Educational Apple ID for their student(s) under 13 years old. We pair Apple’s MDM with Cisco’s Meraki MDM. Now that we have all of the technical specs out of the way, let’s take a look at the actual event details.
We scheduled one day, a week before school started, from 1pm-7pm for students to pick up their devices. Students had to have their iPad Handbook signed and hopefully had created an Apple ID before coming to the event. We decided to not split them into certain time frames by alphabetical order or ask them to schedule a time for pick up since we were doing distribution for just one day. We had 26 teachers in our building volunteer to help (our teachers rock!), in addition to about six student Tech Squad members. The helpers were arranged in shifts from 1pm-4pm and 4pm-7pm for the most part. Let me tell you, I can’t imagine doing this with any less number of helpers!
We set up the event in stations so that the tasks were separated. At each of the six stations we had a poster with the steps of the station so that individuals could start the station steps on their own while they waited in line. We also had handouts on each table with the same steps. We tried to have at least 2 helpers at each station. For some of the more challenging stations, we had three helpers.
Breakdown of Stations (You can find our complete station guides here.):
- Station 1: We initially separated individuals as they entered into two lines: 1. Have an Edu Apple ID, 2. Don’t have an Edu Apple ID yet. Then, when they had taken care of business at Station 1 with either just signing in or creating an Apple ID, they received a ticket so that they could proceed to Station 2 and pick up their iPad.
- Station 2: The red ticket was used so that Station 2 knew that the student had checked in and had turned in their signed iPad Handbook. This worked really well. Students told the helper their last name and as the helper searched for the iPad, the student found their name on a sheet of labels. Students then immediately labeled their chargers. After getting their iPad, they proceeded to Station 3.
- Station 3: Students went through the startup configuration of the iPad, until they got to the “Get Started” message and home screen.
- Station 4: Students renamed their iPads so that we could manage them by building and grade level. They also turned on items in the app store so that they could receive apps.
- Station 5: Students set up their student email and found their Meraki email so that their device could receive apps.
- Station 6: Students checked to make sure they had the Meraki profile on their device and then completed an expectation checklist so that they were aware of the big iPad rules before leaving the building.
Overall, we had more success than issues and after the first two hours of a non-stop line of people, we were easily able to get people in and out in under 20 minutes. The biggest hang up which caused for some people to be there longer was due to our issues accessing Apple’s website through parent email. When parents were clicking the “Consent” button, the webpage was redirecting them to the wrong page and was not allowing them to create an actual Educational Apple ID for their student. We ended up just forming a line where we took the parent’s information so that we could help them create an Apple ID at a later time. Being flexible and creating a plan on the go really helped! We had about 700/853 students come through to pick up their devices that evening and it was truly an awesome showing of our learning community with the number of staff, students, and parents involved!