Personalising iPads in Bulk

Although we've come a long way in the short time the iPad has existed it's still predominately a personal, consumer device. It was pretty simple to enrol kids' iPads into our MDM and give them access to our wifi using configurator, but there was still a lot of work left for each child to do on their iPad once they received them.

Namely:

  1. Sign in with their Apple ID
  2. Enable Location Services, iCloud (backup is disabled by the MDM profile), Siri and Register with Apple
  3. Add their Google Apps email account
  4. Verify their Apple ID email address
  5. Join the VPP Managed Distribution programme by clicking a link in an email, logging in to the App Store and hitting accept
  6. Enrol in our iTunes U Digital Citizenship course (after iTunes U and iBooks has finished being pushed out by the MDM)
  7. Wait to be accepted into the course, then download the books

All before the kids even start learning! I'm sure there are some ways we could have made it simpler, but we worked pretty hard to optimise it to this point (webclips to join the iTunes U course, mail merge passport sheets, configurator settings).

For us this meant orientation lessons with the kids when they got their device, working step by step but with the opportunity for confident kids to move ahead. Setup took about 40-60 minutes a classroom.

All of this will be a lot easier if one day schools can manage institutional Apple IDs, removing steps 4 and 5 (the most time consuming steps), and whitelist addresses (ideally with wild cards) for iTunes U enrolment. Rome wasn't built in a day though and the progress so far in deployments has been pretty great. Ideally I'd like to assign a device to a student in our MDM and then have it download all the mail, Apple ID and other bits and pieces to it by magic.