Making The Grade Overview Updated July 3, 2021

Making The Grade

A new weekly series from Bradley Chambers covering Apple in education.

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108 'Making The Grade' stories

March 2018 - July 2021


Bradley Chambers has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 1000s of Macs and 1000s of iPads over the years, 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 teachers, students, and knowledge works.

Bradley is passionate about how to make identity management easier to deploy new apps and services along with cloud-based technology.

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You can follow Bradley Chambers on Twitter or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Read recent Making the Grade stories from Bradley Chambers below:

Making The Grade Stories July 3

In my opinion, one of the most shocking pieces of news coming out of WWDC 2021 was that Apple was going to allow you to bring your own domain to iCloud+ sometime later this year.

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Making The Grade Stories May 29

One of Apple’s spring education announcements was iOS remote support for teachers in Apple Classroom. Remote support on iOS is something I never thought I’d see, but a global pandemic changed many plans for everyone. With many schools still virtual across the US, remote support is something that all schools need. On macOS, remote support is a solved problem with multiple solutions. On iOS, though, it was previously another story. In situations where I needed to give someone on iOS remote support, I had even resorted to using FaceTime on one device to view the screen of another. After thinking about this feature’s implications, I am convinced this is step one on a path to iOS offering remote support to education, businesses, and eventually end-users.

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Making The Grade Stories May 27

Today, the University of Nevada, Reno announced that the iPad Air would power its Digital Wolf Pack initiative for its incoming freshman for the Fall of 2021 as students return to campus.

The iPad Air, launched during a pandemic-filled 2020, has quickly become a favorite of education and enterprise customers. Although slightly more expensive than the low-end iPad, the iPad Air is a powerful way to use iPadOS with support for almost all of Apple’s smart accessories.

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Making The Grade Stories May 22

A few weeks ago, 9to5Mac exclusively broke the news that Claris Connects was adding support for syncing student information systems to Apple School Manager. Since the news broke, I’ve heard from several IT managers at K–12 schools that are highly excited by the prospect of the integration going forward. Let’s dive into why Claris Connect will be a big part of a K–12 administrator’s life in the future.

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Making The Grade Stories March 25

Earlier this week, Apple announced multiple new updates for its education offering, including Apple Teacher Portfolio, remote support in Apple Classroom, a Mac Catalyst version of Apple Classroom, and new updates to the Everyone Can Create curriculum. Apple is also releasing Apple School Manager integration with Claris Connect in the coming weeks. Claris Connect first launched in beta in 2019.

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Making The Grade Stories December 19, 2020

When I purchased the early 2020 MacBook Air, at the time, I said it was the ideal laptop for K-12. In a fashion that only Apple can do, they’ve topped their computer just a few months after its release. After switching to the M1 Apple Silicon MacBook Air a few weeks ago, it’s undoubtedly the best laptop ever built for education.

Sponsor: If you’re a business of school looking to find a trusted repair partner for your Apple devices, check out 9to5Mac’s Apple Repair Services.

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Making The Grade Stories November 28, 2020

Apple recently updated its Clips app adding several exciting features. The new changes include a refreshed user interface, the ability to record in both vertical and horizontal aspect ratios, and is optimized to record and share in Dolby Vision HDR with the new iPhone 12 family of devices. What I don’t think most people realize is that Clips usage in K-12 has skyrocketed since its release. Particularly when many students are studying virtually, Clips has become a simple way to share what you’re learning if you’re a student. If you’re a teacher, it’s a simple way to share a quick lesson or reminder with your students.

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Making The Grade Stories November 21, 2020

Earlier this year, I looked at the idea of deploying AirPlay 2 using in the classroom without using Apple. I have now deployed 30 AirPlay 2 TVs to my entire school, and I’ve lived to tell you the benefits, negatives, and pitfalls.

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Making The Grade Stories November 14, 2020

Fifteen-year-old Giyas Umarov is a high schooler from New Jersey who’s always had a deep interest in computers, as many kids do. What Giyas did, though, is not something many kids do. He went from no coding knowledge to actually being credited by Apple for an iOS bug fix.

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Making The Grade Stories October 31, 2020

By all accounts, Apple is set to unveil its first Apple Silicon-based Macs in the next few weeks. While there is much to discuss around the benefits of Apple Silicon for the general consumer, there will be massive benefits to Apple’s strategy in K-12 and the enterprise.

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Making The Grade Stories October 24, 2020

For many years after the introduction of the iPad, it was released like clockwork in the Spring. Since the K–12 buying season is also in the Spring, it was a perfect time for schools to make bulk purchases of the iPad. Now that Apple has shifted the iPad release schedule to the fall, schools are left buying devices that will be replaced by the time they’re in students’ hands.

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Making The Grade Stories October 3, 2020

Since the iPad was released, it’s been a premier tool for young children. Thanks to a wealth of preschool apps, durable case options, and familiar interface, it’s been popular for schools and parents alike.

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Making The Grade Stories September 12, 2020

One of the brands that seem to transcend to all people of all ages is LEGO. I am continually amazed by how the company continues to create unique products. LEGO Harry Potter products are some of my all-time favorites, and my kids play with LEGO products almost every day. LEGO products aren’t just for offline play, though. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing the LEGO Education SPIKE Prime kit

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Making The Grade Stories August 8, 2020

Most tech communities spend the summer working through the iOS and macOS betas ahead of the fall releases. For something that’s been happening for the last few years, it feels like fall software releases have been part of our lives for decades. As fun as these updates are for general consumers, they can be a significant source of stress for IT departments. As you work through these beta updates to verify compatibility, you’ll want to plan how you will roll out these updates to your inventory. If you are wondering when to install iOS 14, read on to here my testing plans. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories August 1, 2020

iWork has long been thought of as the third tier of productivity suites on macOS and iOS compared to G Suite and Microsoft 365, but it combines free software with a robust local application that, when used along with side G Suite for collaboration needs, creates a vast ecosystem of tools in K–12. What are the reasons to use iWork in K-12? expand full story

Making The Grade Stories June 24, 2020

One of my favorite sessions from WWDC each year is the “What’s New in Apple Device Management” session that details the upcoming enhancements to Apple’s MDM APIs and other features that system administrators can use to more efficiently manage Apple devices in the enterprise. So what’s new for 2020 with Apple device management? Let’s take a look. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories June 20, 2020

I’ve just finished deploying the base model 2020 MacBook Air to our entire faculty and I have been using an upgraded model myself for the past few weeks as well. After spending time with both models, I’ve concluded that the 2020 MacBook Air for K-12 is a device that has few compromises for teachers and students. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories May 30, 2020

As it became apparent that COVID–19 would send schools home, many IT directors suddenly had to build out distant learning solutions overnight. Since then, I’ve read about countless deployments of Google Classroom, Schoology, and other Learning Management Solutions being used to support at-home learning. There is one app I’ve not seen a single mention of during COVID–19, and that is iTunes U. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories May 2, 2020

The past few weeks have been wild at my school. Over just a few days, we went from thinking there would be a 20% chance we’d shut down to making serious plans due to the COVID–19 outbreak. This scenario meant that we had to launch a distance learning platform virtually overnight. This week, for Making The Grade, I want to explain how I built a low-cost, distance learning solution for our school. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories April 25, 2020

One of the tasks in education the iPad enables over a Chromebook is Augmented Reality, and right now is the time for AR apps to shine. With students forced home for the final stretch of the school year, class trips, field trips, and other immersive experiences have been canceled. Education is more than just pencil and paper, but when students can’t leave the house, augmented reality comes to the rescue. ARKit2 is supported by iPhone 6s and later, all iPad Pro models, iPad 5th generation, or newer. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories April 18, 2020

During the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at overhauling a K–12 network, and all that goes into that. While we’ve not covered everything, we have included some essential items like a firewall and Wi-Fi. This week, we will move on to discussing device selection. A lot of your software decisions will be based on your device, so it’s essential to pick the right one. Let’s dive into K-12 device selection. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories April 11, 2020

Building a new network for a K–12 school shares a lot of similarities with building one for enterprise, but when it comes to Wi-Fi, there are likely going to be some differences to consider. K–12 schools have different security needs, content filtering needs per SSID and capacity needs thanks to 1:1 iPad deployments. This week, as we continue our K–12 network overhaul series, I am going to look at Wi-Fi. For K–12 schools, the vast majority of users on the network will be Wi-Fi only. Regardless if a school uses iPad, Chromebooks, or Microsoft Surface, classrooms are rarely going to have more than one or two ethernet jacks. How do you build reliable school Wi-Fi? expand full story

Making The Grade Stories April 4, 2020

Although there are a lot of similarities in K–12 and enterprise networks, K–12 networks will have some requirements that must be considered when overhauling a network. Over the next few weeks, I am going to discuss all the various pieces of building a K–12 network. We will look at firewalls, switches, Wi-Fi, device management, and device selection. This week, I am going to look at picking the best firewall. expand full story

Making The Grade Stories March 28, 2020

In the past few weeks, 9to5Mac has broken several stories related to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. The one that intrigued me the most was the OS Recovery feature. As an iOS IT administrator, this feature will solve many problems in K–12. Here’s why I am excited about the upcoming OS recovery in K-12. expand full story

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