Apple Classroom 2.1
By Nick Acton
20 December, 2019 by
Apple Classroom 2.1
Nick Acton Music

How to make it happen


Setting Up Teacher Created Classes (unmanaged)

This video provides an overview of how to set up teacher-created classes and highlights some of the latest features in Apple Classroom 2.1.

The Classroom App is one of a number of fantastic new innovations for education developed by Apple in the last year. In fact, I would say that it is the biggest educational advancement from Apple to date. The Apple Classroom 2.0 update made the app much more accessible by introducing the ability to set up Classroom 'on the fly' without the requirement for an MDM solution.

In an ‘Apple Classroom’, a teacher can control pupil iPads in a truly meaningful way. A teacher can launch devices into selected apps, divert them to web pages, open iBooks, lock the entire class into an app and/or lock the iPads down completely. On top of that, a teacher can oversee the screens of each iPad in their classroom and monitor activity in real-time.

Odoo • Image and Text

It sounds great, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! It is awesome and it can completely redefine the digital workflow within your classroom. The 2.0 update means that a teacher can set up 'unmanaged' classes quickly and easily. However, it’s worth mentioning that there is some specific technical requirements to set up the alternative 'managed' classroom. 

So, what is the difference? Well, 'managed' Apple Classroom setups are managed through a Mobile Device Management system. Essentially, this means that an ICT coordinator or IT administrator can set up all of the classes and groups for the teachers prior to anyone using the devices. 

'Unmanaged' Apple Classroom setups can be set up 'on the fly' by any teacher in a much less technical way. This flexibility means that as of now, anyone can download the app and start using it straight away with their classes.

In this blog, we are going to explore the setting up of an 'unmanaged'  and 'managed' Apple Classroom. If you would like more information in relation to the 'managed' set up then please get in touch using the Contact Us button above and we can arrange a free webinar with our Apple tech team.

Setting up Unmanaged Apple Classroom

3 Simple Steps

Apple have been upfront from the beginning about what will work and what won’t work when it comes to Apple Classroom. Because the app is particularly sophisticated and advanced, older iPads will not be compatible. This is largely due to updated Bluetooth technology required, that is not available on on older models. Essentially, Apple Classroom is only available on 4th Generation iPad or later and  2nd Generation iPad Mini or later. On top of this the iPad must be on iOS 9.3 or later to support the app. Therefore, your first step on the road to Apple Classroom might be to update your devices and/or update your iOS. For full details on requirements you can click here.

Apple Classroom now offers a simple way of enabling children to join their Teacher's digital class. Before the update, an Apple Classroom could only be set up via an admin ICT person through a Mobile Device Management software (more information on this within the 'Managed Apple Classroom' part of the blog). However, 2.0 allows teachers to display a code for the children to type in. The children then find the Classroom app in their settings and type in the four digit pass code to join the class. It will then prompt each child to type in their name. The code gives the children access to the teacher's class and by typing in their names, the teacher can then see and manage their pupils.

From there, you're good to go. The class is set up and the teacher is ready to guide the children through the lesson. It's as simple as that. Managed or unmanaged, the teacher still has the same level of interactivity and/or control over the iPads that have typed in the passcode. You can guide the children through web pages and iBooks. Divert everyone’s view to display your iPad or a specific child’s work. Lock children in apps or lock them completely out of their iPads. Monitor everyone’s iPad on your own screen and see their work developing in real time.

Setting up Managed Apple Classroom

5 Simple Steps

Odoo • Image and Text

It doesn't matter. Managed or unmanaged, the iPads have to be a certain age and updated on to a certain iOS. Either way, Apple Classroom is only available on 3rd Generation iPads or later and iPad Minis. Again, the iPads must be on iOS 9.3 or later to support the app. With that in mind, if you are looking to set up your iPads via a central admin person in a 'Managed' way, that person must first make sure that all of the iPads are updated and/or new enough.

In order to centrally set up all of the classes, groups and children on Apple Classroom, you must first configure the devices to enable the deeper digital interaction (more details on the configuration of your iPads in Step 3). Therefore, the technology must be enrolled on an MDM (Mobile Device Management). Some MDMs are not compatible with Apple Classroom at this moment in time. I can say with certainty, that at the time of writing this blog, Jamf, Zulu Desk, Meraki, Filewave, Heat, Microsoft Intune, MaaS360, Tabpilot, Lightspeed and Apple Profile Manager all interact perfectly with the app. However, all off the MDM softwares will probably update their services to include interaction with Apple Classroom eventually. It is very important to assess all of your options when it comes to installing and using an MDM. Please get in contact with us if you are considering the different options out there.

Through your MDM of choice a configuration profile containing class information can be pushed out to the ‘instructor’s’ iPad. In other words, vital information can be sent to the teacher’s iPad. This includes things like names, apple ID’s, device information etc. The teacher can then see that information straight away and use it to launch successful Apple Classroom lessons (more on this in step 3). Likewise, the pupil iPads can have a configuration profile pushed to them too. This aids the interaction between pupils and the teacher. All of the year group and/or subject classes can be set up via this configuration. Again, if you are unsure about how you might configure these profiles and push them out to the iPads, please get in contact with out technical staff who will be able to take you through the process.

The teacher can then actively open and use the Apple Classroom App on their iPad. This means that each classroom teacher can take control over their differentiated groups. The classes will already be set up via the configuration created on the MDM. Therefore a teacher will be able to see their different classes and tap on them to open them up. Within that class, a group button will appear. Simply name the group and select which children you wish to be in it. Then repeat this process for every other group. This means that it is easy for a teacher to address the entire class or direct differentiated tasks and provide levelled provision for pockets of pupils. A teacher can do this via an 'unmanaged' class set up, however, they cannot do it before the children have joined their class. Managed Apple Classroom set ups, mean that a teacher can prep their lessons prior to inviting children into them.

When the configuration is done and the groups are set up you’re ready to go. The teacher launches the app and selects the class to guide the student experience. From there you can launch apps simultaneously on every iPad or to your pre-determined groups. In the same way that a teacher can engage the children through an 'unmanaged' classroom set up, you can guide the children through web pages and iBooks; divert everyone’s view to display your iPad or a specific child’s work; lock and unlock children in apps or lock them completely out of their iPads; monitor everyone’s iPad on your own screen and see their work developing in real time and generally control the digital workflow. You may have noticed that I have repeated myself there. The fact is, the functionality is the same if you set up a managed or unmanaged Apple Classroom. However, 'Managed' Apple Classroom offers more prep opportunities and means that everything can be set up in the background before any child or teacher even touches a screen.

Two options. One is undeniably easier than the other. One is more time-consuming. However, they are both worth considering. It really comes down to your specific situation in your specific school. If you are looking to use Apple Classroom within one class, every so often, then creating 'Unmanaged' Apple Classrooms is maybe a better option. Alternatively, setting up an entire school or a year group's worth of pupils and teachers will be better organised through a 'Managed' set up.   

Either way, its impact on teaching and learning with iPad is unparalleled by any other advancements over the years in my opinion. It really can re-invent the digital workflow in any given lesson. Ultimately, it gives a teacher more control. ‘Control’ that many teachers have sorely wanted since the technology found it’s way into their classroom. However, I wish to stress that Apple Classroom can be turned on as quickly as it can be turned off. If you are worried about the creative flexibility of an iPad being compromised by this advancement (as I was), don’t be. In some cases, it is better to let the children have free-reign over their technological exploration. Not using Apple Classroom is as easy as not using any of the other apps. Overall, there’s loads to gain and nothing to lose.