Sunday, 31 May 2015

Switching to iPad Minis

It has been almost three years since we leased 100 iPads for our school.  Confession time, back then I thought it would have made more sense financially for us to purchase the iPads.  But the thing about technology, you just can't predict where it's going to go, and our wise principal knew what he was doing.

Things have changed a lot since 2012.  We have moved from a very decentralised way of iPad management to using Configurator and Meraki and specifying which apps are on the iPads (here's my post about that).  We now have 152 devices, 42 of which are iPad minis.  When I investigated the cost of leasing iPad minis I found that leasing six of them was equivalent to leasing four iPads.  I was given permission to trial a set and the feedback I got was that the smaller size was not an issue for the students, but the big benefit was the teachers having enough devices for their groups.  Subsequently all of our new devices have been iPad minis and they have been well-received by the team leaders who have been lucky enough to get them.

When the time came to decide what to replace our old iPads with, my recommendation was to bring in iPad minis.  This was endorsed by our team leaders.  Our supplier offered us a choice of the mini Basic (the original iPad mini), the mini Retina (iPad mini 2) or the iPad mini 3.  Our policy has always been to purchase the latest models, however I had read a number of articles, including this one, that said there were no real benefits to upgrading to the mini 3.  It was decided to go with the iPad mini 2, and on Friday we confirmed our lease for 150 of them.  The cost of the lease is actually less than what we paid to lease the 100 iPads three years ago!

We now have the interesting prospect of setting up 150 iPad minis and replacing the old iPads in a very short space of time (I underestimated how long the negotiating and approval process would take).  We do have a couple of things in our favour.  Firstly, Apple's Device Enrollment Program (DEP) has just arrived in New Zealand and should make set up easier and do away with having to use Configurator (although even our I.T. guru has not actually used it before, because it is so new).  Secondly, we sold about 40 of the iPads to our staff so can leave those until after we have returned the other 60.

It is going to be a very busy time about 5-10 working days from now (the time it will take to get the minis from our supplier).  Once I recover I will post about the (hopefully smooth!) process of using DEP and Meraki to set things up.

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