1. Rigwald's Avatar
    Hello,

    We are researching the possibility of getting classroom sets of Android devices (I'm thinking Nexus 7's) for use in our junior high. We are planning on using Meraki to manage the apps and privileges on them. I would like your input on the following, since many of you have a lot more experience with these than I do. (I currently don't have a Nexus and am waiting to purchase a personal one after the new ones come out. My only experience is messing with a side loaded Nook Tablet to learn about Android.)

    1) I was thinking about using 4.2's user profiles (1 for each class period) to keep students' accounts separate (such as Dropbox or Google Drive). Any foreseen issues?

    2) Is there an easy way to make a disc image (for restoring after each year)? And with that, is there an easy way to restore multiple devices at the same time?

    3) Is there a way to block purchases (app, in app, etc...) on the device?

    4) Would we need to have a school account at Google Play set up for each profile? (Some people on other sites have indicated that should be done for mass deployment of paid apps, since apps are licensed to the account and not the device, therefore can be installed on multiple devices.) If so, can that be separate from what the students would log in with gMail? This, obviously is related to #3.

    5) What would you consider "must have" apps on the devices. (Such as browsing, anti-theft, readers w/ highlighting/annotating/dictionary functions, etc...)

    6) Are screen protectors / cases recommended? (Classroom sets stored on a charging cart for use in class only.)

    7) I have researched a program called SmartClass (from Radix) to allow us to monitor all tablet screens, interact with the students, etc.... Any other suggestions?

    8) Anything I am missing?

    Thank you very much for any insights you have!
    03-17-2013 01:05 PM
  2. Patrick Schroedl's Avatar
    1) I was thinking about using 4.2's user profiles (1 for each class period) to keep students' accounts separate (such as Dropbox or Google Drive). Any foreseen issues?
    I think that a separate account for each student would get complicated quickly. However, this may be a good approach:

    • One user account for each class period.
    • Each user account is tied to a Google account for that specific period (a Google account for English, for Math, etc.).
    • The Google account for each period has Google Drive/other services set up to provide the files required for each period.


    So in, say, third period History, every student would use the "3rd Period" profile. You could create one folder in the 3rd Period Google account's Drive called "Submissions," for example, if you need students to be able to submit individual answers or whatnot.

    2) Is there an easy way to make a disc image (for restoring after each year)? And with that, is there an easy way to restore multiple devices at the same time?
    After setting up the devices as you want them, create a "nandroid" backup. This backup encompasses almost all of the data on the device, including Android itself. When you want to restore, you boot into recovery mode and select "backup and restore," and then your nandroid backup file. You'll want to be familiar with using recovery mode as well as the nandroid backup system, but it's very easy and quite reliable to make backups, transfer them across devices, and restore them.

    If you use this nandroid approach, ensure that you're only restoring nandroid backups on devices that are the same model.

    3) Is there a way to block purchases (app, in app, etc...) on the device?
    Open the Play Store app on the devices, then:

    Settings > Use PIN for purchases

    You can also set content filtering for maturity levels if you want apps of certain varieties to be hidden altogether.

    4) Would we need to have a school account at Google Play set up for each profile? (Some people on other sites have indicated that should be done for mass deployment of paid apps, since apps are licensed to the account and not the device, therefore can be installed on multiple devices.) If so, can that be separate from what the students would log in with gMail? This, obviously is related to #3.
    My answer for #3 is what I would recommend. You can certainly set it up so that students can sign into their personal Google accounts, but that will get more complicated. I'll let someone else jump in here with other potential solutions. Students can always use the browser to access the mobile version of the Gmail website. This would prevent personal accounts from being added to the apps themselves; I wouldn't want to see a bunch of other students' personal accounts on the device or signed in to the Gmail app.

    5) What would you consider "must have" apps on the devices. (Such as browsing, anti-theft, readers w/ highlighting/annotating/dictionary functions, etc...)
    I personally prefer Google Chrome for a browser, but people have many different opinions. I would recommend Lookout Security & Antivirus for keeping the devices safe and secure. It includes fairly easy-to-use 'lost device' functionality.

    6) Are screen protectors / cases recommended? (Classroom sets stored on a charging cart for use in class only.)
    I would definitely recommend screen protectors for repetitive use in the classroom environment. I would recommend a case, but perhaps not a very bulky one. The Nexus 7 is a great and solid device even without a case.

    7) I have researched a program called SmartClass (from Radix) to allow us to monitor all tablet screens, interact with the students, etc.... Any other suggestions?
    If you're referring to this 'Smart Class' app, I can't offer much advice. Visually it doesn't look very impressive, and has very few ratings and installs, but if it works as advertised then it may be a valuable tool. Without overstepping my bounds I'm not a teacher, after all my opinion is that some things should be kept off of classroom devices. 'Smart Class' mentions the ability to have forum-type discussions, take tests, etc. which I think are better left to the traditional in-class methods if possible and if appropriate. The rest of the features 'Smart Class' describes, such as syllabus, assignments, etc. could be just as easily accomplished using Google Drive. You may even have more control with Google Drive, but I'm not familiar enough with 'Smart Class' to say one way or another.
    03-17-2013 05:31 PM
  3. Rigwald's Avatar
    I think that a separate account for each student would get complicated quickly. However, this may be a good approach:

    So in, say, third period History, every student would use the "3rd Period" profile. You could create one folder in the 3rd Period Google account's Drive called "Submissions," for example, if you need students to be able to submit individual answers or whatnot.
    Since this is a junior high, the tablets would be used by multiple students throughout the day -- one student in each class period. The user accounts would be set up for each period (same class - Global Studies each period). The idea behind the Google Drive (or DropBox) is to give students access to their work/readings at home, since the tablets won't leave the room (unless we get permission to do a 1:1 setup).

    After setting up the devices as you want them, create a "nandroid" backup. This backup encompasses almost all of the data on the device, including Android itself. When you want to restore, you boot into recovery mode and select "backup and restore," and then your nandroid backup file. You'll want to be familiar with using recovery mode as well as the nandroid backup system, but it's very easy and quite reliable to make backups, transfer them across devices, and restore them.

    If you use this nandroid approach, ensure that you're only restoring nandroid backups on devices that are the same model.
    Would restoring be able to be accomplished wirelessly? The idea would be to get one "master" tablet created with the settings, etc... and then make all the others clones of it. It would be done at the beginning of the school year or if a tablet has "issues" and needs to be reset. Also, someone mentioned that option to me on another forum, but said that you needed to root the device.


    Open the Play Store app on the devices, then:

    Settings > Use PIN for purchases

    You can also set content filtering for maturity levels if you want apps of certain varieties to be hidden altogether.



    My answer for #3 is what I would recommend. You can certainly set it up so that students can sign into their personal Google accounts, but that will get more complicated. I'll let someone else jump in here with other potential solutions. Students can always use the browser to access the mobile version of the Gmail website. This would prevent personal accounts from being added to the apps themselves; I wouldn't want to see a bunch of other students' personal accounts on the device or signed in to the Gmail app.
    Someone (I believe on the Android portion of StockExchange) suggested (to another teacher) to set up every device with the same Google Play account, for ease of syncing apps (paid and free). My question (perhaps not phrased clearly) was whether the Google Play account could be different from the other Google accounts that a student might use after logging in to their user profile (period 1, 2, 3, etc...). {I am glad that if we did the same GP account, we could lock it to prevent purchases.} If they have to be the same, then we will have to use DropBox and students will have to use the browser to access their school provided GMail accounts. It is just something we need to figure out ahead of time to know what to plan for.


    I personally prefer Google Chrome for a browser, but people have many different opinions. I would recommend Lookout Security & Antivirus for keeping the devices safe and secure. It includes fairly easy-to-use 'lost device' functionality.
    Since Chrome won't do Flash (which is essential for many online simulations), that would be out. Thanks for the infor on Lookout Security. I will research it along with AndroidLost. :-)


    I would definitely recommend screen protectors for repetitive use in the classroom environment. I would recommend a case, but perhaps not a very bulky one. The Nexus 7 is a great and solid device even without a case.



    If you're referring to this 'Smart Class' app, I can't offer much advice. Visually it doesn't look very impressive, and has very few ratings and installs, but if it works as advertised then it may be a valuable tool. Without overstepping my bounds I'm not a teacher, after all my opinion is that some things should be kept off of classroom devices. 'Smart Class' mentions the ability to have forum-type discussions, take tests, etc. which I think are better left to the traditional in-class methods if possible and if appropriate. The rest of the features 'Smart Class' describes, such as syllabus, assignments, etc. could be just as easily accomplished using Google Drive. You may even have more control with Google Drive, but I'm not familiar enough with 'Smart Class' to say one way or another.
    That is not the same SmartClass by Radix.


    Thanks for you input! I am "techie", but new to Android and tablets.
    03-17-2013 06:10 PM
  4. Patrick Schroedl's Avatar
    Since this is a junior high, the tablets would be used by multiple students throughout the day -- one student in each class period. The user accounts would be set up for each period (same class - Global Studies each period). The idea behind the Google Drive (or DropBox) is to give students access to their work/readings at home, since the tablets won't leave the room (unless we get permission to do a 1:1 setup).
    That was essentially what I was suggesting, so that sounds like a solid plan to me.

    Would restoring be able to be accomplished wirelessly? The idea would be to get one "master" tablet created with the settings, etc... and then make all the others clones of it. It would be done at the beginning of the school year or if a tablet has "issues" and needs to be reset. Also, someone mentioned that option to me on another forum, but said that you needed to root the device.
    It would be possible to push the nandroid backup files wirelessly, but I don't believe the actual restoration process can be done in such a fashion. Booting into recovery and initiating the restore process can take less than 30 seconds once you get the feel for using recovery. If you're doing this once per year, it shouldn't be much of a headache. The 'master tablet' idea sounds good.

    I believe the stock recovery provides nandroid backup/restore options, but I can't be entirely sure as it's been a long time since I've used stock recoveries for such purposes.

    Someone (I believe on the Android portion of StockExchange) suggested (to another teacher) to set up every device with the same Google Play account, for ease of syncing apps (paid and free). My question (perhaps not phrased clearly) was whether the Google Play account could be different from the other Google accounts that a student might use after logging in to their user profile (period 1, 2, 3, etc...). {I am glad that if we did the same GP account, we could lock it to prevent purchases.} If they have to be the same, then we will have to use DropBox and students will have to use the browser to access their school provided GMail accounts. It is just something we need to figure out ahead of time to know what to plan for.
    I do not believe paid apps are accessible to other user accounts on the device, but I do not use the multi-user feature much so I may be wrong.

    Since Chrome won't do Flash (which is essential for many online simulations), that would be out. Thanks for the infor on Lookout Security. I will research it along with AndroidLost. :-)
    You should look at the Dolphin and Firefox browsers. AndroidLost and Lookout are both good; you can't really go wrong.

    That is not the same SmartClass by Radix.
    I had a feeling. I'm on edge data now and browsing is slow, so I can't take a look at it. The name Radix is familiar to me though. If the reviews are good, I would say go for it.

    Thanks for you input! I am "techie", but new to Android and tablets.
    Glad to help however I can. I'm sure there are a few people around here with experience using Android tablets in similar scenarios, hopefully they'll come out of the woodwork so to speak.
    03-17-2013 08:45 PM
  5. 1superbert's Avatar
    Hi I am an instructor at the Apprentice School and will leading a 50 Nook HD+ pilot. Would like to talk about your mass deployment "Best Practices" and Lessons Learned...Thanks...
    08-05-2013 08:28 AM
  6. 1superbert's Avatar
    Hi I am an instructor at the Apprentice School and will leading a 50 Nook HD+ pilot. Would like to talk about your mass deployment "Best Practices" and Lessons Learned...Thanks...
    08-05-2013 08:30 AM
  7. jaboop's Avatar
    Do you guys have a smartboard? This is a very good idea! A must have app which is on the illegal side /: would be emulating a graphing calculator, possible to get a licence for it?
    08-05-2013 11:18 AM

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