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How to Supervise the iOS Devices of Your School or District


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One of the most important things to care about when deploying Apple devices and educational technology tools is how teachers will be able to guide students during classes, engaging them in a personal learning experience with iPads and Macs.

Some mobile device management (MDM) tools designed for schools can ensure this technological learning experience. Thus, it is essential to make sure these capabilities work on devices to save teachers and staff time and effort.

Supervising makes a huge impact in the long-run of managing Apple devices in educational environments. That’s why we prepared this article to answer the most common questions about supervising Apple devices.

What is the Supervised mode?

Basically, Supervision is the procedure that proves an institution (school or enterprise) has ownership over the iOS or tvOS device. Thus, the admins have more control and more possibilities for remotely managing the devices by performing more restrictive actions.

Are Supervision and Enrollment the same?

Supervision and Enrollment are different procedures: an iPad can be enrolled in an MDM solution using the manual enrollment process through URLs, but not be supervised. Similarly, the device (iOS or tvOS) can be supervised using DEP (Device Enrollment Program) or Apple Configurator 2, but not be enrolled in an MDM server.

Keep in mind that an iOS device that is both supervised and enrolled in an MDM solution gives school administrators more options to manage that device.

To supervise or not to supervise?

Apple devices can be managed under two modes: Supervised and Not Supervised. Deciding which mode to use will depend on how the devices are used in the school, who uses the devices, and who owns the devices.

We recommend supervising devices prior to performing any configuration or providing them to users. If unsupervised devices are already in use, putting them into Supervised mode will wipe the devices completely, and they cannot be restored from previous backups (either iCloud or iTunes).

Note that most MDM functionalities that support teachers to guide students during class will only have effect on supervised devices.

Why should we supervise the devices of our school?

When using school-owned iPads, the best option is supervising the devices. With this, the school's admin will have access to all available tools for remote configuration and management – outside and inside the classroom.

Amazing MDM features designed for teachers, such Mosyle Class Manager and the Apple Classroom App, are only available for devices in the Supervised mode.

Check out more features that require Supervised mode:

REQUIRE iPads to be in Supervised mode:



DO NOT REQUIRE iPads to be in Supervised mode:

How can I supervise an iOS device?

There are two ways to supervise the devices: by deploying devices using the Device Enrollment Program (DEP), or by configuring the iPads with Apple Configurator 2.

Supervising iOS devices with DEP

The Device Enrollment Program (DEP) is one of the Apple Programs that helps institutions to deploy Apple devices. In the past, the educational institution should purchase the devices directly from Apple or from an authorized reseller to enroll them in the DEP account. Now, Apple announced that admins are able to enroll in DEP devices purchased from all kinds of channels using Apple Configurator 2. This decision will positively impact many educational institutions that have donated devices.

By integrating DEP with Mosyle Manager, it’s possible to simplify the configuration process, including Supervision of the devices over-the-air, as well as remove specific steps of the Setup Assistant. This allows teachers and students to use devices promptly.

To supervise the devices enrolled on your DEP account, you need to select the option Active Supervision within the Mosyle Manager web panel. When this is checked, devices will be in the Supervised mode when restarted or turned on for the first time.

When creating a DEP profile in Mosyle Manager, you can also indicate if the user cannot remove the device management profile. This ensures the rules and usage policies defined by the institution are always active on the devices.

Once the device is taken out of the box and activated, it will be registered in the MDM solution and all management settings, apps, and iBooks will be ready to use.

Supervising iOS devices with Apple Configurator 2

We recommend this option if the DEP is not available in your region/country. Apple Configurator 2 makes it easy to deploy iOS and tvOS devices on a large scale. Using Apple Configurator 2 (AC2), you can create a blueprint to supervise and set up your devices.

A Blueprint is like a template you create within AC2 software that allows you to preconfigure settings, items, options, and restore data, and then apply them on iOS devices. Supervising and enrolling the devices using Apple Configurator 2 is a scalable way for device deployment, since the IT team can set up an entire fleet of devices and just give them to users.

To configure and enroll your devices using Apple Configurator 2, you'll first create an enrollment profile within Mosyle Manager. During the process of preparing and enrolling devices using AC2, you'll see an option to Supervise Devices. As long as this option is checked, your devices will be supervised during the preparation and enrolling process.

The device will be registered in the MDM solution and all management settings will be ready to use, including apps and iBooks. The user just needs to take the device out of the box and activate it.

And then…?

Supervision is one of the first steps in deploying the iOS and tvOS devices in your school or district. After that, IT staff will enroll the devices in the MDM server, assign them to users, and set up the basic configuration.

Then, it's time to really manage devices by delivering applications, keeping track of any issue that occurs, and providing the best teaching experience for teachers with the right tools.

Open your free account and check out how Mosyle Manager can help you get through this entire process and streamline Apple deployment and management in your school and district!


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