After waiting for several months, I was finally able to meet Apple Classroom. This new app integrates with your MDM solution to allow teachers greater focus and control over the iPads in their classroom. According to the description:
Classroom turns your iPad into a powerful teaching assistant, helping a teacher guide students through a lesson, see their progress, and keep them on track. With Classroom, you can easily launch the same app on every student device at the same time or launch a different app for each group of students. Classroom helps teachers focus on teaching so students can focus on learning. (from iTunes)
Meet Apple Classroom – Test Driving Features
I definitely give this app a thumbs up. Once the data has been imported and synced with your MDM solution, it is very easy and intuitive to use. We use JAMF’s Casper Suite as our MDM. We are not currently invited to Apple School Manager. (Apple if you read this, we would love an invite!) In my small test group only half of the iPads were signed in to iTunes. None of those last two limitations mattered, it works flawlessly.
I was able to see the screens of iPads in my class and pull up specific iPads for further viewing. The pictures are based on the image in the student’s contact info as saved in the Contacts app. Names are based on how the iPad is named. iPad names can now be controlled via MDM. There is also support for importing pictures into MDM, as well as integration with Apple School Manager.
Grouping features gives flexibility so that you can monitor, focus, or control certain groups that you create while leaving others alone. This feature is great for differentiation. It also groups iPads based on the App that is open.
Other features include the ability to launch specific apps or web pages. When launching the app, the choices are based on what apps are available on the teacher’s iPad. If the students do not have access to that app, then you get an error message. However, if you receive an error message on one student, it does not block functionality for the rest of the class. This is really good because in the
classroom, things do not always go as planned. The Navigate launcher works with Safari, iBooks, and iTunesU. Teachers have the ability to launch web pages they type in as well as saved short cuts. They can also pull up iTunesU courses or iBooks if they are saved on student iPads.
Meet Apple Classroom: The Verdict
Overall I definitely give this a thumbs up. There are many features that I would like to see, some of which are still being developed. All in all, it is a must have for teachers with iPads in the classroom. Kudos to Apple for this gift to it’s education market! You can find out more about using Apple Classroom on Apple’s Support site. MDM support for the Classroom app is dependent upon your vendor. Information about JAMF Software and Apple Classroom can be found here, on JAMFNation.