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The iPad and iPhone have both been extremely popular devices in enterprise and education, and Apple's most recent changes are directed at those markets. Recently it made changes to its Device Enrolment Program, Volume Purchase Program, and Apple ID for Student Service, and provided new reference guides to provide help for the mass purchase of apps and pushing out large numbers of iOS devices to users, according to Tech Crunch.
Historically, Windows has been more popular in enterprise because of its better remote installation and configuration support. Apple seems to be closing the gap.
Both the enterprise and education programs now have support for Mobile Device Management hands-free configuration. This ‘zero touch’ setup has been a long-requested feature for many pros, as it eliminates the need to cable up every deployed device and install a profile via Apple’s Configurator utility.
IT departments can order pre-configured devices directly from Apple, manage them remotely, and lock down devices so end users are unable to remove or alter the profiles. Such a strategy reduces the burden to IT departments during device deployment and reduces the possibility that user will muck up the device settings. In fact, users' own devices can be conformed to any given system with a simple opt-in option.
Mobile device management (MDM) was allegedly a problem for schools, specifically the Los Angeles School District. The school system's iPad program was followed by a highly publicized hacking scandal. The iPads had to be recalled when "students were found deleting the enrolment profiles on their devices" - thereby allowing them to browse the internet freely and install unapproved apps.
Apple has also made changes to its Apple ID system by implementing IDs for students under 13 years of age.
These IDs will let younger students receive apps or textbooks purchased for them, use iTunes U, and sync content via iCloud, but they come with a number of limitations not enforced for standard Apple IDs. Students will not be able to change their account settings to alter their e-mail address or date of birth, an iCloud Mail account is not created for the student by default, the Limit Ad Tracking feature is enabled by default, students won't be able to opt-in to receive marketing messages from Apple, no credit card is required to use the account, and parents are automatically notified any time the terms of service change.
Apple's changes are timely, since many enterprises (especially those in the Fortune 500) and education institutions are interested in rolling out mobile devices to their users. Apple's iPad (and iPhone) have been pretty dominant as alternatives to Windows-based PCs, but Google's Chromebook platform has been catching up. Android devices are also an allure due to their lower price tag. Tools that facilitate easy deployment and allow for customizability from the user-end, without wrecking profile settings, will no doubt be very attractive to companies and schools.
It's a classic question: what platform do we go with? Historically, this meant using a Mac or Windows machine, but in the mobile space this has become increasingly more complex. Today, there are Android, Chrome, Linux, iOS, and a variety of Windows 8 and RT devices. But, will investing in any one of these platforms be a sound investment five years from now?
That's a question addressed in a Mind/Shift article by Shawn Mccusker. He argues that student learning needs should dictate what platforms a school or institution chooses to adopt. Schools in particular need to be willing to make changes in the technology they use as their needs change.
This seasonal view of devices (rather than “device as school identity”) is essential to helping schools move forward, meet their current students’ needs, and keep the curriculum relevant and timely for the future. A focus on pedagogy and key technology skills will transfer from one device to another, making the shift easier; a focus on being a device expert, or mastering device specific mechanics, will not. Students will graduate into a world that will demand technological fluency, the ability to move and process information across various platforms and devices.
This is an important point, since technology changes so fast schools can't possibly latch onto one platform. Also, there isn't one universal tool for all learning outcomes. A school might purchase Windows computer and Macs if they are required for different purposes, while other students might be better off with iPads and/or Android tablets.
The approach that schools should teach "general" technology skills on a variety of platforms is not unlike what universities have been offering for a long time. Go to a university bookstore and you will likely find offerings from every platform. This diversification provides educators and students with considerably more choice and flexibility.
Despite their reputation for being adverse to change and slow to adopt new technology, the tablet is quickly becoming the preferred device in education.
John Kirk, writing in TechPinions, outlines some recent events and figures which show the shift toward the tablet from PCs. This includes, but is not limited to, LA public school system's $30 million iPad investment - leaving their previously preferred vendor HP.
Kirk cites Pew Research, which has been monitoring tablet ownership since 2010. In May, 2010 only 3 percent of Americans (18 years and older) owned a tablet. As of May, 2013 that number had grown to 34 percent of Americans.
Tablets have become an accepted part of everyday life and soon they will become an accepted part of education too. In three short years, we’ve already moved from the “Tablets are a stupid idea and it should never be done” phase to the “Of course Tablets are a great idea in education and why haven’t we done it already?” phase.
The author notes that the large catalogue of established educational software makes them appealing devices for schools. It's also a win for developers, as more of their apps will no doubt be sold, which will continue to strengthen the platform.