FileWave Manages Deployment of 8000+ iPads to East Allen County Schools Students and Staff

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East Allen County Schools in Fort Wayne, Indiana had the daunting task of distributing more than 8000 iPads to its students in a five-day timeframe. The FileWave team was on-site to ensure the smooth distribution of the devices to students and teachers, as well as providing the solution necessary to deploy, update and maintain the wide variety of software, apps and files required by each individual student and teacher at EACS.

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Envision the daunting responsibility of distributing more than 8000 iPads to thousands of students, at five high schools, within a five day timeframe. Each iPad must be encoded with individual student names and ID numbers to ensure that they have access to the correct software and files for their scheduled classes. This was the task conquered by the IT staff at East Allen County Schools - one of the largest distributions of iPads in the Midwest.

The IT department realized that the distribution process was just the beginning. It was imperative that EACS have a powerful solution in place to manage all the applications and files that would be deployed to the 8000+ devices on a daily basis.

EACS found the answer they were looking for by partnering with FileWave. They worked with the IT staff every step of the way. The FileWave team was on-site to ensure the smooth distribution of the 8000+ iPads to students and teachers, as well as providing the solution necessary to deploy, update and maintain the wide variety of software, apps and files required by each individual student and teacher at EACS.

Located in the southeastern section of Fort Wayne, the East Allen County School district is one of the largest in Indiana, including eleven elementary schools and seven secondary schools. William Diehl, the Director of Accountability and Technology at EACS, knew managing today’s technology for a district this size would be a monumental project. He and his staff reviewed many classroom models, both 1:1 and B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device). They decided on a blended learning style that combined traditional classroom learning with current technology, which allowed students to access textbooks, lessons and examinations via iPads. In order to implement their plan, over 8000 iPads would need to be configured and associated with each individual student and distributed as efficiently as possible. Ben Byers, Systems Engineer, was entrusted with this task. “I monitored the FileWave server during the distribution and made sure all the iPads were registered correctly. With FileWave’s support, everything went smoothly...exceptionally well. They flew engineers in to make sure there were no last-minute issues at the distribution and later, they were able to remote in and kept us going.”

The successful distribution was the end result of months of planning, collaborating and optimizing EACS hardware. “FileWave took a very active role in setting the server up so it was optimized to handle our 8000 iPads. Our VMWare setup is fairly robust. The fact that we’ve been able to balance the server load as well as utilize the hardware we already have has been a great thing for us.”

Once the iPads were in the hands of the students and teachers, Byers’ responsibilities included deploying and updating the innumerable apps that were utilized everyday. Most vendors they worked with previously had issues with updating apps. “Some MDM vendors didn’t handle it correctly, some didn’t have the ability to handle it at all and with some vendors, you had to delete the app from the iPad and distribute it as if it were a new app, which meant that the student data was lost. With FileWave, we’re able to push a version of the app and when there’s an update, you download it and FileWave will notify the iPad that there is an update to the program. With a curriculum that is constantly changing, the ability to push something out at a moment’s notice is a big, big feature.” Another feature that Byers appreciates is distributing iBooks to students. “Within two weeks of notifying FileWave that we needed the ability to distribute iBooks, they had a Beta (version of the deployment software) in development. So they were able to send it to us and within a few days, we were distributing iBooks to all the students.”

William Diehl appreciates FileWave’s capabilities that enable better security for the iPads. “We knew there was a possibility for some theft and stolen devices. FileWave allows us to manage the iPads and allows us to work with Cisco (their WIFI provider). If someone calls and they are missing an iPad, we can start tracking that device - watching the iPad as it moves from AP to AP, down the hallway. You have to have a very good product, and FileWave has helped us to keep our sanity, managing that many devices.”

East Allen County Schools have made a huge investment in their future with 8000+ iPads, and there’s no looking back. “This is such a paradigm shift for some individuals. In the world of education, papers and handouts, kids sitting in rows and teachers standing at the front of the classroom has been steadfast for years. All of that is changing in the most rapid way,“ says Diehl. “The best part of FileWave is the way that they have helped us make this transition. They are eager to help you and ease your mind about how things are going to go. And this is the important part, when things don’t go as they are scripted, they are there to help get any issues fixed, so we can move forward.”

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Jason Noel
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