Choosing iPad devices forced Parade College to do some creative thinking about device management and file sharing.
Parade chose an Apple Mac Mini server with Profile Manager to manage the devices. “That allows us to at least keep track of the iPads and allows us to push out our wireless settings and do some basic remote monitoring,” Caporetto said.
Parade considered more advanced mobile device management (MDM) products, but “in the end we wanted a more basic MDM solution” because the school felt the iPad is a more personal device than a desktop or laptop, he said.
Sharing files among students and teachers is critical in an educational environment, but Parade discovered that is “particularly painful” to do on iPads, Caporetto said.
The iPad supports WebDAV, “but your [Apple] iWorks suite will only allow you do one, and it’s very inconvenient for any user to have to keep entering a different WebDAV address whenever they want to access a different file from a different share,” he said.
Parade considered using Dropbox, but concerns about security, data ownership and potential bandwidth costs “made it a hail Mary option at best.” Forcing students to email files seemed “too cumbersome of an option,” he said.
In the end, Parade decided to use a Microsoft distributed file system “to provide a unified name space for all our [network] shares,” Caporetto said. “Then we implemented WebDAV on that name [space] so now via the iPad all the user has to do is type in one URL and they can access every single share.”
Another challenge was integrating the iPads with the school’s Web-based learning management system (LMS), the IT manager said. “Uploading documents to a Web-based system via an iPad is pretty much impossible.”
Parade contacted its LMS’s developer, eWorkSpace, and the vendor solved the problem by adding WebDAV support into the LMS, Caporetto said.
While students have not always kept their iPads in pristine condition, Apple has provided satisfactory support to students in its retail stores, Caporetto said.
“We had students that received [the iPad] and then broke it the very next day.”
The college has found that the Apple stores often provide quicker support to students than Parade can provide by sending the devices to the manufacturer, he said.
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