Making The Grade is a weekly series from Bradley Chambers covering Apple in education. Bradley has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.


One of the most common questions I get from other schools is not about what device to buy, but rather which case they should get. This question is always a complicated one because while my answer is simple, it does take a few minutes to explain.

When I wrote about AppleCare+ last week, I kept coming back to the fact that when you multiply anything times 1,000 iPads, the cost is astonishing. Cases are no different. Back when schools first started deploying iPads, I saw countless schools deploy case similar to the Griffin Survivor case. I’d see schools promote the fact that their case could be driven over by a car or dropped out of a building.

Do you know what my strategy has been? To buy the absolute cheapest case possible, and then I constantly remind students about how much the iPads costs. My current go-to case is this model. It’s $8, and it provides some basic protection. Is it going to cover against a direct fall on concrete? Probably not, but it’s a lot less expensive and a lot more functional.

I think a lot of damage issues with iPad deployments is when schools constantly promote their heavy-duty cases or their warranty programs. Focusing on this teaches the students the devices don’t have value regarding durability.

“Don’t worry about dropping it; the case covers it”.

“If you break it, the insurance program covers it.”

If you promote the fragility and value of the device, that is how they will treat it.

A few years ago, I rolled out close to 200 iPad Air 2s. I found a case on sale for $3 per case. I ordered every one that Amazon would sell me. Even at $3 per case, I still spend $600 on cases. On a side note, that delivery was a not a fun one to unbox. If I spend $30-$40 on cases, I’d be looking at $6,000+ on cases. I don’t know about you, but spending that amount on cases makes me sick to my stomach.

To wrap it up, buy cheap cases that provide some basic protection, and constantly talk about taking good care of the gear. If your school is like mine, you’ll still come out way ahead.

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