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Prepare your school's Apple devices for distance learning

Learn about distance learning resources and apps available from Apple and third-party providers.

The following resources are designed to help IT leaders prepare their environment for distance learning.

Prepare equipment to take home

Your first step is to determine if your school's equipment can be taken home by teachers and students. Then you can use your Mobile Device Management (MDM) system to quickly set up iPad devices and Mac computers with content, settings, and restrictions to provide students with distance learning.

Below are suggestions on how to prepare devices for distance learning, depending on how they are currently being used in school.

For devices that are currently used in a single program in the classroom

Adjust the settings to ensure students can work at home when they take the devices with them.

For devices that are currently used as shared devices on trolleys

Adjust the settings so that individual students can take the devices home with them. You can also set up a schedule so that groups of students can take devices home for a specified time and then bring them back for the next group of students to use. With MDM, the devices can be quickly deleted and set up for each user group.

For students with their own devices

Provide instructions for manual MDM enrollment so students can access additional apps and resources for home use. Learn how to manually enroll a device in MDM.

Set up devices with MDM

  • Use automatic device enrollment for all devices owned by the facility so that they are always managed through the MDM and automatically re-enrolled in the MDM when they are deleted.
  • Update all Mac computers and iPad devices to the latest available version of macOS and iPadOS. This ensures compatibility with apps and MDM settings.
  • Configure Managed Apple IDs in Apple School Manager to give teachers and students access to 200GB of free iCloud storage for documents, media projects, and backups. Learn more about Managed Apple IDs.
  • Send verification codes in Apple School Manager to students using their own devices so they can use their Managed Apple ID to sign in to iCloud.
  • Configure the calendar to help students organize their days and focus on tasks. Learn more about the settings of the Calendar payload.
  • Provide the essential apps teachers and students need to continue learning from home. Apps can be distributed remotely using Apple School Manager and the MDM. Learn how to choose and purchase content in Apple School Manager.
  • Use the self-service function of your MDM system (if available) to provide students with a catalog of complementary apps. Check your MDM documentation to find out if this feature is supported and how it is implemented.
  • If you don't have an MDM solution available, you can take advantage of extended trial periods from vendors like Jamf, Mosyle, and Meraki to enable distance learning to be delivered quickly.

Configure special settings for your school

When Apple School Manager is linked to your Student Information System (SIS)

Adjust the school year start and end dates to include scheduled school closings and distance learning. This way, the student lists will continue to sync with Apple School Manager. Learn how to connect your student information system to Apple School Manager.

Filter device content by suitable resources

Use the settings to ensure students have access to resources and follow proper user regulations when studying at home. Example:

  • Make sure the network restrictions allow connections from your home or over a public Wi-Fi network. Learn how to set network restrictions with MDM.
  • Set up filtering options for Safari and third-party apps, such as adult content filters, global HTTP proxies, and plug-ins for advanced content filtering. Learn more about content filtering for Apple devices.
  • Use an endpoint security solution like Cisco Security Connector that provides protection and network telemetry with extended trial periods and hosting in the cloud.
  • Configure notification settings to minimize distractions during school hours. Learn more about how to configure settings for the Notifications payload.
  • Use timed profiles, if supported by your MDM, to set required restrictions during school hours and provide more flexibility in the evening outside of school hours.
  • Learn more about iOS and iPadOS restrictions.

Stay connected with video and messaging apps

Teachers and students can keep in touch remotely through text messaging and video conferencing.

Use productivity and collaboration apps

You can take advantage of these apps, services, and features from Apple that are well suited for use in the classroom and distance learning:

  • With schoolwork1 Teachers can put all information from announcements and worksheets to special activities in the app and stay up to date with the progress of their students. Learn more about Schoolwork.1
  • With Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, students and teachers can collaborate in real time through their Managed Apple ID. You can restrict collaboration to members of your organization. Find out how collaboration works in Pages, Numbers, and Keynote.
  • In iOS 13.4, teachers and students can share folders in iCloud Drive within your organization. Anyone with access can go to the folder in iCloud Drive, add their own files, and get the latest versions of files, which is great for sharing tasks or other resources like videos.
  • Multitasking on iPad allows students and teachers to work on a document in Microsoft Word or Pages while connected to the class through Google Hangouts or Cisco Webex. Learn how to multitask on iPad.

The following productivity and collaboration tools also work on iPad and Mac:

  • Google G Suite for Education runs in Safari on macOS and iPadOS and also offers native iPad apps, including Google Classroom and Google Drive.
  • Microsoft Office 365 apps are available in the App Store and integrate seamlessly with iPadOS and macOS.
  • Conference tools like Cisco WebEx and Zoom Cloud Meetings integrate with the live webcast feature, making it easy for teachers and students to share their screen for the class to see.

Find more apps for education in the App Store

The App Store has thousands of apps designed for teaching and learning. We have curated collections that include distance learning apps for institutions and teachers, apps to learn from home, and apps that work with Schoolwork.1Distribute them with Apple School Manager so teachers can use them to distribute materials, communicate with students, and continue to deliver engaging learning experiences.

Further assistance

Resources for IT

More learning programs and forums for teachers

  • The Apple Learning Space Lesson Series is now available to help schools and teachers with remote learning resources. This series is presented by the leadership and learning teams at Apple Education. Each video is designed to help teachers use the built-in features of their Apple products to enable distance learning for all students.
  • Teachers can join Apple Teacher, a free, professional self-study program designed to develop skills on iPad devices and Mac computers that are directly related to student activities.
  • #AppleEDUchat is a weekly forum for teachers around the world to share ideas, ask questions, and learn from others via Twitter. Many chats focus on discussing distance learning ideas on Twitter.

Other resources

  • Apple devices have built-in accessibility features to appeal to all learners. These include VoiceOver for students who are blind or have low vision, voice control for students with physical disabilities, and closed captioning for students who are deaf or hard of hearing. Learn more about accessibility features on Apple devices.
  • Privacy and security are built into Apple devices, software, and services. Our products are designed to collect and use as little data as possible, to process data whenever possible on the device, and to provide transparency and control over the sharing of data. Learn more about privacy and security for Apple education products.
  • Learn how to clean Apple devices.

1. In Australia and New Zealand, the Schoolwork app is called Classwork.

2. Some of the resources mentioned in this document may not be available outside of the United States.

Any information relating to products not manufactured by Apple or any independent website that is not controlled or audited by Apple is not a recommendation or endorsement. Apple is not responsible for the selection, performance, or use of third party websites and products. Apple makes no representations about the accuracy or reliability of any third party websites. Contact the provider for additional information.

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