What Apple’s DEP means for UK schools

What Apple’s DEP means for UK schools

For several years now, the gap between the intuitiveness of using an iPad and the sheer backwards hellishness of deploying large numbers of them has been curious, frustrating and counter-intuitive. Things have (very gradually) progressed, but several persistent problems have remained, forcing schools to compromise (and IT teams to work overtime). Having been part of several large iPad deployments, I can attest to how badly suited the available tools are to an enterprise-scale roll-out. Have a look at our recent deployment post to see what the process is currently like.

However, all this is changing from next month, when the company’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) makes the trip across the Atlantic to land in Europe. Fair play to Apple – the gap between US and UK availability has been only a few months. Previous initiatives such as the Volume Purchasing Program have taken much, much longer.

 

So, what will DEP change?

Answer: lots of little things that have great significance for schools with lots of iPads.

 

1. Zero-touch deployment. When you decide to buy an iOS or OSX device, you can configure it via your school’s DEP account, meaning that it arrives with its settings already in place – wifi connection, MDM profile, any apps you want installed. This is a dramatic change for IT teams, who previously would have spent weeks (no exaggeration) deboxing and then physically connecting each iPad via a cable to a computer to set it up. Good things flow from this: money is saved, staff are prevented from resigning at the mere suggestion of an iPad deployment, etc. Another really nice by-product is that children receiving an iPad get the full cellophane-wrapped boxed experience that perhaps is denied to many of those from poorer backgrounds. No one else’s fingerprints are on it, it hasn’t been used by previous generations of students, it’s for them, to learn with. This is a powerful statement of the value of their education.

 

2. Streamlined activation. A school can now edit the steps a user takes when setting up an iPad out of the box. Want to remove the question about location services? Don’t want pupils to have to choose which country they’re in? No problem. A small but useful enhancement.

 

3. Wireless Supervised Mode. This is a great change. Supervised Mode (SM) allows much greater control over certain features that either can be disruptive (iMessage, sweary Siri, Game Centre) or are actually extremely useful (a Global Proxy which forces all network traffic through your filters,  a mandated and locked MDM profile). In the past, to put a device into SM you needed to cable it to a computer and use iTunes or Apple Configurator. Schools that didn’t do this, then rapidly wished they had, were faced with recalling student devices and starting again (the process also wipes the device’s content… not a popular move with users).

Probably the biggest advance here is the ability to mandate and lock the MDM profile. This is the configuration setting that forces the iPad to ‘follow the rules’ set by the school’s Mobile Device Management software. Previously, pupils could delete this and it wasn’t possible to prevent it, once the method of doing so had spread around the playground. In some cases, pupils just didn’t ever enrol in the MDM to start wilth. With mandated, lockable profiles now possible, a major gap in schools’ eSafety/ behaviour management of pupils with iPads has been filled.

 

The DEP is only available on devices bought directly from Apple or via a reseller that is participating in the program so the question to any potential reseller ‘Do you have a DEP code?’ now becomes a vital one! Schools have to register an account on Apple’s DEP site to get started.

With DEP, Apple finally has a deployment toolset that is appropriate for large-scale roll-outs and no school should consider processing more than a handful of iPads without it.

 

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20 Comments

  1. FYI it’s a by-product.

    Reply
    • Thanks Mickey! Loved you in Steamboat!

      Reply
  2. What about bulk creation of appleID’s for users including U13 year old accounts.

    Deploy.apple.com allows you to do the same thing and currently is only in the US?? Is this coming to the UK or do we already have it?

    Reply
    • AFAIK, there’s no such tool for the UK. There used to be, but in all the recent conversations I’ve had with Apple their line has been that pupils (over 13) should make their own accounts. I don’t think this is really in schools’ best interests, particularly if using Managed Deployment, so usually advise that they get whitelisted and create the accounts themselves manually. A good way to do this is to use one or two trusted older students to help.

      Reply
    • But surely Mr Britland would be the man to ask at LEH, no? :)

      Reply
      • Thank you Dominic for the response. I am working on the deployment for LEH and work with Mr Britland closely. It was he who sent me over the link in the first place and as the report doesn’t mention this part of the system but the U.S. one does include it, this was the reason for the question. I’m the one who tells information like this to Mr Britland (unless he has found it on Twitter first.

        Reply
        • Sorry, was meant tongue in cheek!

          There’s no mention of the bulk-ID creation tool in any of Apple’s documentation. The man who may know *even* more than Matt is Dan, let’s ask him on twitter.

          Reply
          • Dan concurs with me: no bulk tool from Apple in the UK yet

          • At the time of writing it doesn’t exist here. However, knowing your timeline I think you’ll be ok.

          • Though the ‘yet’ there is the important caveat. When’s your deployment?

    • Hi Matt,
      Thanks for forwading this link.
      I Got the answer. Very helpful response.
      Just waiting on Apple now.

      Thanks you everyone.

      Reply
  3. Very useful post!

    I have spoken to numerous resellers at BETT 2015 and received blank stares when asking if they have received their DEP ID.

    Do you know of anyone successfully using DEP in the UK yet? Maybe a list of ID’s for every reseller would be useful somewhere when they’re available…. Would save talking to sales people

    Reply
    • It’s not operational yet – February is the latest estimate.

      Albion Computers and Academia both have DEP IDs, to my knowledge.

      Reply
  4. We are launching a trial 1:1 project with the L6th this September. Is there any way we can create a large number of user accounts on the day of the launch? Our Network Manager seems to think we can only create 8 profiles a day with the @brentwood.essex.sch.uk suffix. It will take a long time to get everyone set up if that is the case.

    Many thanks,

    Adam

    Reply
    • Hi Adam,

      Ah, the time-honoured process of subverting Apple’s ID creation limits! You have 2 options, both of which I’ve seen made to work:

      1. Apply to Apple to have your IP whitelisted so that you can make all the Apple IDs you want, for a period of a month. It’s not a given that they’ll say yes, but if you have a credible case for why Option 2 isn’t practical, they’re usually pretty helpful in my experience. To progress this, you’ll need to talk to your regional Apple business development person, who is probably Leonie. DM me on Twitter for he email.

      2. Devolve the task to your students to do from their homes. As you’re talking about the L6th, this should be quite possible. Of course, they’ll need specific instructions on how to do this without the need to enter credit card details and, for reasons to do with VPP and other stuff you’ll want them to use their school email address for this. Perhaps too late now to do this effectively, as I doubt you will see them all again before the start of term?

      Dominic

      Reply
  5. Many thanks Dominic, working with Apple regarding suggestion 1. Suggestion 2 in place as well.

    Reply
    • Having tried the Whitelisting method I can confirm this works perfectly but set enough time as you have a 30 day window and can take 3-4 weeks to get setup.
      I however have found that it is 8 AppleID’s per computer if you have not got Whitelisting done (please don’t quote me on this but I’ve been doing this for a while now)
      Using a suite of Apple Mac’s or iTunes installed on PC (we virtualised our iTunes software) we were able to get around this.
      If however you need to create AppleID’s for shared devices and need to create 1 ID per device there are 2 lovely scripts (on GitHub) which can automate this process for you but you DO need whitelisting in order for these to work.

      Reply

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