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Mobile device management gives Kershaw County Schools the control to run an iPad initiative

With MobileIron VSP from AT&T, districts gain visibility, security, and safety when deploying a 1:1 initiative

After eight years of employing a 1:1 laptop initiative, the team at Kershaw County Schools in Camden, S.C., chose to investigate alternate options for the 2012-2013 school year. Eventually, the school board decided that a 1:1 iPad initiative was the next logical step in maintaining technological relevance.

Interested in the educational applications that were available, yet unaware of a proficient deployment process, William Oden, Senior Systems Administrator at KCSD, along with other administrators, visited neighboring districts to investigate how to run the initiative. “When we visited schools, the problem that kept coming up was that most IT teams had no way of tracking the devices once they left campus,” says Oden. “They had problems pushing out applications to all devices at once. We knew we needed to address these issues from the beginning.”

Already an AT&T customer for network purposes, Kershaw County decided to adopt the company’s MobileIron VSP platform as its mobile device management system. MobileIron combines device management with real-time wireless cost control at the network level. It also gives a school’s IT team multiplatform visibility on and off campus. “One of the biggest reasons we went with MobileIron was its ability to provide insight on many different operating systems,” says Oden. “If we ever decide to switch from iPads to Android tablets, we do not need to change our monitoring system.”

After selecting MobileIron VSP from AT&T, Kershaw County was ready to roll out the devices for the district high schools in August 2012. According to Oden, the implementation process went seamlessly. “AT&T gave us all the support we needed during the early stages of the rollout,” he says. “They helped configure our networks and tested that the device management worked in and out of our district bounds. They also provided training for all necessary staff members on the MobileIron system.” Through the MobileIron platform, devices can be constantly updated and kept highly secure, a key concern for Kershaw County and most schools.

To limit classroom distractions, Oden’s team has the ability to turn off particular applications or device features permanently or during certain times of the day. “There was no pushback from teachers,” says Kershaw County. “Moving from laptops to iPads puts the ‘police work’ of monitoring on the system. Teachers can simply focus on their instruction.” The MobileIron VSP platform from AT&T allows IT technicians to simultaneously push required academic applications onto students’ iPads; the IT team at Kershaw can see exactly which apps are on a particular student’s iPad at any time. “MobileIron gives us great granularity,” Oden says. “We can see exactly which student has what apps on exactly which device. Students may attempt to download inappropriate apps; our visibility allows us to catch when this happens and handle it accordingly.”

Though lost or stolen iPads have not been a large issue yet, Oden takes assurance in MobileIron’s ability to locate missing devices. KCSD is currently in the early stages of evaluation with its iPad rollout, but the administrators hope to prepare their students for post secondary education, the military or the work force due to the differentiated learning the devices can provide. Even now, though, according to Oden, teachers and students have embraced the initiative. “Teachers have built many projects around the iPad,” says Oden. “We are thinking the initiative will be even more successful in our middle and elementary schools later down the road. The only way we could have introduced this to our district is with a device management system. MobileIron provided exactly what we needed.”

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