Best MDM practices for the new school year - updated for 2019/2020

Best MDM practices for the new school year - updated for 2019/2020

Mosyle Team
written by Mosyle Team

The end of an academic year is the best time to plan the activities for the next year, as well as refresh the educational technology tools and the Apple devices that will empower teachers and students for an innovative learning experience.

As part of the technology team of a school, district, or university, you probably will have to reorganize the technology resources and update the school's hierarchy on the software systems for the next year, since students are promoted to the next grade level and teachers may have different courses and classes.

In our video series MDM on the Road, we captured how Cardinal Gibbons High School refreshed their 1,200 iPads with the support of our Apple mobile device management (MDM) solution. Watch the video to see the important role of the technology staff during the EdTech refresh and how the support team of the MDM solution can assist the school along the way.

To help with refreshing the technology in your school, we've identified some of the best practices for this time of year when we think about managing Apple devices in K-12 Schools and Districts. Check out some step-by-step tips so you can do these procedures easier and faster!

1) Promoting students in the MDM solution

If you aren’t taking advantage of Apple School Manager or Active Directory integrations when managing the devices in your K-12 school, you can still update student info using the MDM solution easily.

Before you get started promoting students for the new academic year, first make sure to check the management profiles and take note of any that are assigned to classes/courses. These will need to be recreated in order for the profiles to be assigned to new classes/courses. You can see the step-by-step in this article.

2) Check Apple Integration tokens and renew them if needed

To keep the integration with Apple Programs running successfully, it is necessary to have valid Apple School Manager tokens. If you use DEP, we highly recommend that you upgrade your Apple program to Apple School Manager. DEP and VPP deployment program will no longer be available starting December 1, 2019. You can learn more about it here:

The Apple School Manager token has a one-year validation and must be renewed before they expire. This deserves careful attention so that the synchronization between the ASM (or formerly DEP) account and Mosyle Manager is not affected and your school continues to register devices in Device Enrollment, facilitating the workflows in the deployment and initial configuration of the Apple devices.

If you are using Mosyle Manager, you can view the token validity by accessing your account and navigating to the Apple Integration tab. To renew the token, you'll need to visit both the Mosyle Manager dashboard and the Apple School Manager portal.

You just need to download the public key from Mosyle Manager and upload it on the Apple School Manager portal. Then, download the new token from the ASM portal, and back in Mosyle Manager dashboard, upload it.

3) Update users within Apple School Manager

If your school does have an Apple School Manager account, it is essential to update the information about the users within the portal for the next academic year. It’s very easy to get this done!

Basically, you need to remove the accounts of students who graduated and/or left the school, and edit the new Grade Level of the current students. Just login to your Apple School Manager account and upload a new spreadsheet with the updated information.

And be careful: pay attention when editing user information as you need to keep the same User ID for each student. If the User ID doesn't match with the previous information, the integration with your Student Information System (SIS) and the MDM will fail.

You can also use the Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) to import account information. In this scenario, you also need to keep the same User ID.

4) Remove data when deleting integration

Another feature provided by Mosyle Manager that supports you when refreshing the educational technology is automatically removing the previous data synched to the MDM solution when deleting the selected integration.

It can help you streamline the process of updating the roster, classes, and courses data, especially if you are planning to make major changes in your school's hierarchy data in Apple School Manager or Active Directory.

5) Academic Year Assistant

The Mosyle Manager Academic Year Assistant helps you update the Mosyle Manager hierarchy data for the new school year! To access it, navigate to the Academic Year feature in the My School tab.

If you previously used synchronization to import data into Mosyle, simply update the data in the system you used, such as Apple School Manager or Active Directory. The next time Mosyle Manager syncs, the user data will be updated.

After that, all MDM profiles will also be updated. For example, if a management profile is only applied to a specific Grade Level, students leaving that Grade Level will have the profile removed, and commands will be created to apply to the profile for any new students entering that Grade Level.

6) Device assignments: Keeping current assignments or reassigning devices

If in your school, the students’ devices must stay in the grade level they are this year, it’s important to be careful with the Install App profiles. The biggest concern with the iPads is the applications, as they take a while to download and install.

You'll probably want to make sure the apps remain on the devices even after the user is unassociated with the device. To do this, make sure your Install App profiles are set so that the profile includes "Do not uninstall the apps removed from the list or when a recipient is removed". You can find this option by going to your Install App profile within the Mosyle Manager Dashboard, and clicking the "Show advanced options".

Once you've made sure all of your apps will remain on the devices, you can unassign devices by moving them to limbo status. To do this in bulk, go to the Bulk Operation area, select all the desired devices, and select the option "Change to limbo".

Now the devices will be ready to be assigned to the new users. If using Mosyle Manager MDM, you can assign the devices either manually or automatically by going to the Assign devices tab, or you can have the users complete the assignment by logging in to the Mosyle Manager app with their QR code or 5-digit access code.

7) Manage educational content licenses

When the school year ends, the students will be promoted to a new grade level, and they might need different educational content, such as applications and books, for the new lessons they will learn. Therefore, it will be necessary to manage the content distribution through the Apps and Books area within the Apple School Manager (ASM) portal.

If you didn't do this yet, it is a great opportunity to migrate your legacy VPP (Volume Purchase Program) licenses to the new ASM's Apps and Books area. As we said before, VPP will no longer be available starting December 1, 2019. By migrating the licenses, you will be able to consolidate and manage all the purchases in one single platform - the Apple School Manager portal. Learn more about migrating VPP to Apps in Books in this article.

When a new academic year is about to start, it's crucial to work on organizing the content licenses. If the applications were assigned to the school devices and those devices will be reused during the next school year, there is no need to revoke the content licenses. If you are a Mosyle Manager customer, make sure your Install App profiles are set to “Do not uninstall the apps removed. Apps and Books (VPP) licenses will not be revoked.”

But, if you need to revoke licenses so the apps can be installed on another device, you can follow these steps to do it very quickly:

After the Apps and Books (VPP) licenses are revoked, the applications will be available on the devices for 30 days. During this time, the students can save data and information contained in the application.

It's possible to verify that the licenses were revoked by accessing the Apps and Books area (or the VPP account) that’s integrated to the Mosyle Manager MDM. Within the Mosyle Manager Dashboard, navigate to the Apple Apps and Books (VPP) area and choose the proper account. Here you will be able to see the number of licenses used and available per application.

To reassign the licenses to other devices, edit the Install Apps profiles you have already created and associate them with student devices (1:1) or Shared iPads (carts).

If applications were assigned by users, it's also possible to revoke the Apps and Books (VPP) licenses if the students and teachers have Managed Apple IDs. By creating Managed Apple IDs within the Apple School Manager portal and installing apps using this method, the school retains the license ownership and you are able to revoke the licenses and reassign them to another student.

Important note: The books (iBooks) licenses can only be distributed through user-based assignment. It is not possible to revoke the license and reassign the book (iBook) to another user.

Remember: Each user (student or teacher) must have an associated Apple ID and will need to be invited to the ASM/VPP account. If the user does not have a Managed Apple ID, they will need to accept the emailed invite sent from the ASM/VPP account.

In order to validate the license for the book license, the device must be logged in with the same Apple ID or Managed Apple ID that received the invite.

8) Manage educational content for Macs using packages

When managing educational content of macOS devices for a new school year, the procedures will not be the same as the workflow done for Apps and Books (VPP) licenses. If you deploy non-App Store applications using PKG files or running scripts and custom commands, you have some options to manage the software that will be installed or removed from the Macs.

In the case of macOS devices, it's recommended a wipe of the devices for a fresh new start. First, you will need to evaluate if there's any data storage on the Macs that need to be backed up. If yes, you would have to backup the Mac before wiping the device and re-enrolling it into the MDM solution.

Then, you will be able to re-apply the management profiles to the devices and install the applications using the methods that you prefer: using packages (PKGs files) or running scripts and custom commands. Tip: make sure to push any license information to the macOS devices so users can access and use the applications.

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