The iPad provides a window to the future of University learning. Since fall of 2010, Notre Dame has utilized the iPad for app development classes. Thirty iPads were individually configured and tailored to a specific class at the launch of this pilot program. As the program expands, with 135 iPads being distributed this semester, it is no longer feasible to individually manage and update each device. Consequently, Notre Dame has turned to Apple’s Profile Manager server for iOS, allowing iPads to be registered to a specific group and managed remotely. The Profile Manager server provides the ability to efficiently update and configure iPads simultaneously.
Using this server, each serial number is registered to a group that contains an associated profile including security, network and VPN settings, airplay capabilities, and email for exchange. When students register the iPad for their class, profile settings for that group are installed and made active. Changes and maintenance for the group can be made remotely, and immediately pushed down to all of the iPads registered to the group, eliminating the need to update each individually. If an iPad is stolen, it can be wiped remotely, preventing the loss of personal information. For students who already own an iPad, the class settings can be added to their personal device. The program expansion resulting from the use of the server creates exciting opportunities for professors and students at Notre Dame.
Andre Murnieks, assistant professor of art, and Elliott Visconsi, associate professor of law, are utilizing iPads registered to the Profile Manager server in their classes this semester. Customized iBooks give students relatively inexpensive access to the class textbook, and apps in the group profile allow for new forms of collaboration and discussion. The profile includes access to airplay, allowing content to be displayed wirelessly over a network. Using Apple TV’s AirPlay, students can display work from their iPad on the classroom’s projection system. Professors can present slides, video, audio files, and iBooks right from the iPad, enriching class discussion and changing the learning experience.
Utilizing the iPad creates valuable opportunity for discussion outside of class. The Profile Manager server gives students access to VPN settings, allowing them to log into the Notre Dame network from off campus. Visconsi, for example, utilizes apps such as Google+ for forums and class discussion. Course content can be uploaded to ITunes U and shared with the class. This minimizes handouts needed, reduces the material and textbook cost for students, and minimizes the amount of material that needs to be carried around.
The Profile Manager server has allowed Notre Dame to expand their pilot program of class iPad rentals, stepping into what very well could be the future: iPads replacing textbooks as the primary instrument of University learning.