Saturday, July 19, 2014

Setting up iPADs using VPP & Meraki

In the next phase of our learning with digital technologies we rolled out 2 iPADs per junior class (10 classes) and 1 iPAD for each of our six learning assistants who work 1-1 or in a small group with students. A total of 26 iPADs therefore needed sorting out. We are a "pc", "Google"and "Chromebook" school so working within the apple iOS was new for me.
Firstly, I had to get my head in the right space to research what other school's were doing. It's great being able to send out a tweet to get the collective wisdom of my twitter PLN for some advice.  I put out this tweet...
which linked me through to lots of interesting feedback and advice.  I then had a skpye session with the lovely Anna Gerrit to see how she had set them up at her school. Our LwDT facilitator Esther Casey also provided some great support with her contact in other schools and what/how other schools had set up their iPADs when they weren't "apple" schools.  My main priority was to ensure that I set up a system so that apps were legally purchased and deployed to each of the iPADS.  Plus I discovered the importance of having similar naming conventions for each iPAD and details in the Apple ID set up across the school.
Here are the steps that I have done (for better and worse) and how I'd do it differently for when/if we get more iPADs:
  1. Create a Google account for each iPAD so they have email within our school system.  This was easy to do as I'm the administrator for our school.  This way all the iPADs have a similar naming convention and password. The email then became the apple ID.  I also set up the iPADs as a separate organisation within the administration panel.
  2. I set up a VPP (Volume Purchasing Programme) account through Apple Education so that I could bulk purchase apps for the team (purchases over 20+ reduces the cost of each app).  This process took over a week to set up from the time you submit your details.
  3. As we didn't have a MAC computer to use as a server to push out the apps through either Configurator or Profile Manager I decided that we would use Meraki as a MDM (Mobile Device Management) service.  Setting up the Meraki account was quick and easy.  The instructions to link the VPP account and Meraki was simple too with very clear instructions (including images!).  
  4. I then set up the apple IDs using the Google email address that was created - unfortunately I had to change the password convention on my Google mail addresses to align with the Apple ID conventions of having 8 characters, a capital letter and a numeral, so this took a bit of time (plus I used my email address as the rescue email which meant that I had to log in to apple ID not only 26 times to activate those accounts, but a further 26 times to activate my address as the rescue email address).  A long tedious process but simple enough.  See my next time advice - as I wouldn't do it this way next time.
  5. In Meraki you "invite" each Apple ID/email/iPAD to receive apps pushed to it through the iTunes store.  This is where I encountered a problem.  The Meraki invites were really easy - but the set up of the iTunes billing information was problematic! It took several hours on the phone to apple support for them to activate each iTunes account as you can only have one credit card linked for every three accounts and while I had deleted the billing information each time, there were issues with from the iTunes store.  This was really frustrating! I even shed a tear through the stress of trying to sort it all out, which is very unlike me! So hopefully this post can help others through this mistake - see my next time advice.
  6. Finally, once all the Meraki invites had been accepted through the iTune accounts I could allocate (in Meraki) which apps purchased in the VPP could be allocated to which iPAD.  I had purchased some different apps for the learning assistants iPADs.
  7. I then gave the iPADs out to the staff who could then turn on the iPADs, put in their new Apple ID and then go to the iTunes store to the 'purchased' apps section and download the apps onto the physical iPAD.
Next time advice:
  1. When setting up the Google mail accounts use the same password conventions as Apple ID from the start - I had to go back in and change my gmail account passwords so that they aligned with the Apple IDs - time consuming but necessary. The password must contain a capital letter, numeral and be at least 8 characters.
  2. Create the Apple IDs through purchasing a "free app" then you don't have to enter in billing information - this was the BIGGEST head ache for me!  As unfortunately there was an Apple error that took 2 weeks for Apple to resolve in-order for the accounts associated with our email to accept the credit card - it was very frustrating and I was on the brink of deleting all accounts and creating the Apple IDs through the "free app" way - so please follow this recommendation, + it saves the $1 per activation on the credit card per account that could be used for purchasing an app instead!

5 comments:

Phil Giddens said...

Thanks so much for this post! Have had a day of frustration trying to set Meraki up, and have been referred to this blog, and was thrilled when I saw what you have outlined. Thanks again!

Cashmere Library said...

Great post. Lots of information which has been helpful but I have a question if I may - we have sent out invites, they have been accepted by logging into the itunes account but are still showing only as 'invited' in Meraki. Do you have any ideas what we have missed?

St Joseph's School said...

Hi,
This is great as I have spent the holidays thinking how I can get my apps from vpp using meraki as I have changed from profile manager to meraki and lost all the 'paid' apps when the iPads were unenrolled from profile manager. I am currently reading as much as I can about this so I can get those apps back on all our junior iPads and followed your blog with interest.
The free apps push put no problem but what you have done as admin of gaffe was exactly what I was considering to harness in all those paid apps we had...I can still see the licences are valid but just need to deploy them back to the iPads

Justine Driver said...

Hi. Glad that you have found this post of some use. I've recently changed schools and switched from profile manager to meraki. Some of our VPP tokens/licences were able to be converted across (but not many) so it has been a good opportunity to review paid apps with a "less is more attitude" to deployment. Really trying to ensure these few are used really well. Good luck on your journey. I find this system great!

Justine Driver said...

Hi. Glad that you have found this post of some use. I've recently changed schools and switched from profile manager to meraki. Some of our VPP tokens/licences were able to be converted across (but not many) so it has been a good opportunity to review paid apps with a "less is more attitude" to deployment. Really trying to ensure these few are used really well. Good luck on your journey. I find this system great!