Gulf Shores City Schools is located in the southernmost tip of Baldwin County in Alabama. This recently formed school district decided that it was time to say out with the old and in with the new in on many fronts including ditching Chromebook in favor of MacBook Air at their high school. The reasons for the switch included the increased creativity opportunities afforded by the Apple Apps ecosystem along with providing students a powerful computing experience that can further facilitate expanding ever important college and career skills. There are a lot of ingredients to create a successful technology program and Gulf Shores acknowledged that it was going to take a coordinated effort to pull off a mid-year switch especially moving from one platform to another. Careful planning and stakeholder buy-in were the foundation for what became a lightning fast deployment of almost 900 MacBook Airs in under 2 hours. So let’s take a look at some of the milestones along the way.
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After evaluating their options for mobile device management Gulf Shores chose Mosyle Manager and Dr. Matt Akin, superintendent of Gulf Shores City Schools, made it clear he wanted a partner that could play a role in making it all happen. Over a series of conversations and virtual meetings their MDM instance was setup, enrollment strategies were discussed and finalized, apps and packages prepared, and management profiles created and scoped to students and teachers.
The enrollment profile was configured so that students would have an expedited setup experience that would only include creating a local user account (with no administrator privileges) and turning on location services. From there the setup assistant would be complete and the user would arrive at the desktop where the Mosyle Manager app would automatically install. The final step has the user open the Mosyle Manager app and leverage the single sign-on capabilities within the app by leveraging their e-mail address to assign the device to themselves.
There were several moving parts to getting ready for deployment day. The Macbook Airs were ordered with plenty of time so that cases could be put on them. The Chromebooks had to be collected and accounted for. Students had to sign an updated technology agreement using a digital form. Lastly, students had to be sure to settle any outstanding technology fees (if applicable).
In the days leading up to deployment day equipment was separated by classroom using rosters from a designated period. The equipment was delivered to each room the day prior so everything was pre-staged on deployment day. Two smaller classes were selected to run through a practice run of the enrollment flows and ensure that the directions being given were clear. Then, a presentation was made so each teacher could facilitate the enrollment process in their classroom. At the end of the day prior to the main event teachers gathered to walk through the enrollment presentation and ask any questions they may have. Troubleshooting advice was added to certain slides based on feedback given during the practice runs as well.
On deployment day students were held in one of their class periods for an extended block and the school was split into three waves so that roughly 300 Macbook Airs were enrolling around the same 20 minute window. Teachers projected the presentation in their classrooms and walked students through each screen of the setup assistant and then how to assign themselves their MacBook Air through the Mosyle Manager app.
One of the great features of Mosyle is that admins can open the Mosyle app on their assigned iPad or Mac and manage their entire deployment. So, the admins for Gulf Shores were able to walk around and assist as needed while keeping an eye as the enrollment numbers rapidly grew. Another advantage of MDM was that at the end of the 90 minute period we were able to quickly see a handful of devices that were not assigned to users so we sent a custom message and blocked those specific laptops from being used for the rest of the day. Within 15 minutes those students came to the library as requested by the message and we were able to ensure they assigned the machine using their e-mail address and within seconds they were back in action.
There are a lot of great benefits with MDM for any school and so many features that can be leveraged to create a fast and efficient deployment. When everything was said and done, Gulf Shores City Schools achieved the intended goal of deploying 900 Macbooks in what turned out to be under two hours. The school community came together at all levels to make the day a success, from the school board and city officials, to the faculty and students, everyone played their part. There was even a lot of buzz in the local community and the news outlets were on hand to capture the momentous day. If you would like to achieve a similar style deployment for your iPads or MacBooks we would love to plan with you! We invite our current customers to connect with our support team to chat through best practices and if you are new to the Mosyle family, sign up for your free account now and chat with one of our MDM Specialists!
To view the video story of the lightning fast MacBook deployment at Gulf Shores City Schools visit our MDM on the Road page here.
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