iPad Set up Process

I recently set up 85 iPads at my school where I am the Technology Coordinator. We are utilizing iPads in the primary grades, with students from grade 4-12 creating on Chromebooks (more on that in another post). But this being my first time setting up a large number of iPads, I had to do some research to find the best method. After a little bit of time, I found that this method is actually working pretty well, so I wanted to share how I was doing this for anyone else who is looking.

First, lets start with the technology that I was using. Two peices of software came in very handy for this process, and I’m not sure how I would have done this without: Apple Configurator and Cisco Meraki. Configurator is a tool to help with the set up and administration of iOS devices, however, I only used it for the initial set up and profile install. Meraki is a cloud-based MDM solution. I use this to manage the devices, push apps, track devices, change wireless networks on the devices and more. I had to set up Meraki PRIOR to starting this process in order to generate a profile for the devices.

configurator & Meraki

Here is the process that I followed:

  1. I began by creating a generic Apple ID for use with all of the devices. Since the devices are going to be used by many different users, I thought this might be the best way to approach the process. You can create a new Apple ID HERE.
  2. Next I went to¬†Meraki. I created my account and used the “ADD DEVICES” button to download the profile that needs to be installed on every device in order for the device to automatically enroll in the MDM. (Click on the image for a better look)Meraki 1
  3. In Configurator I set up the initial device with a naming scheme (PSCD-1stgrade-1) and under the organization tab I was able to select a profile to automatically install on the devices. This is where I put the profile that Merake generated for me. I also created a base wallpaper to install on the devices. I know that this will be able to be removed by users, but it is part of our classroom management practices to not allow that to happen.
  4. Once the organization information is set up, I clicked on the prepare button and started to plug in my iPads. This was the longest part of the process, because the devices all downloaded the new iOS and then installed the profile that I had generated from Meraki. I only used Configurator to prepare the devices… nothing else.
  5. configurator 1
  6. After each iPad was done in Configurator I had to go through the initial set up (Apple Setup Assistant) on the iPad. This took about 2 minutes for each device, but it was important to do because the set up asked me if I wanted to apply my custom profile on the device (the one to automatically enroll in the MDM). At this point I used that generic iTunes account that I had previously made for the devices.
    1. I could have handed the device to a user at this point with a set of instructions that included the generic iTunes account name and password. I think that if I was managing a 1:1 solution where students and teachers all used their own personal iTunes account, that is exactly what I would do. But not if the devices were going to be shared.iOS setup screen
  7. Once I completed the set up on the devices I logged into Meraki and watched as the devices appeared in my dashboard. It was pretty great and easy. Once they were in the Meraki dashboard I could group the devices, assign an owner, push out apps, and apply extra profiles. (profile for student devices/teacher devices/wireless network)
    1. To see more about using Meraki check out this video on YouTube.

This whole process actually worked very well for me. I’m still using Meraki to update devices and push out new apps and profiles. I really have no complaints so far and am very happy with the whole process.

I welcome any questions or comments about the process, and please, if you find this information useful, share it!


2 thoughts on “How I set up iPads at my school

  1. Do you still suggest this process? Is there even less you do with configurator now that iOS 9 permits more control?

    I imagine I only need to set the iPad as Supervised with a Meraki profile and a device name, then everything else happens OTA in its own time. Yes?

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