Making The Grade: Rebuilding Apple School Manager

Apple School Manager is the cornerstone of Apple’s K–12 strategy. When Apple began to push the iPad in K–12, their tools were a little disjointed. They had the Volume Purchase Program, Device Enrollment Program, and Profile Manager built into macOS Server.

About Making The Grade: Every Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He 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.

Over time, Apple has begun to simplify the experience using Apple School Manager. They recently announced that businesses and schools using the Device Enrollment Program or Volume Purchase Program will need to upgrade to a new program no later than the end of November.

If your education organization currently uses Apple Deployment Programs like the Device Enrollment Program or Volume Purchase Program, you can upgrade to Apple School Manager.

Apple School Manager is a service that lets you buy content, configure automatic device enrollment in your mobile device management (MDM) solution, and create accounts for your students and staff. Apple School Manager is accessible on the web and is designed for technology managers, IT administrators, staff, and instructors.

To upgrade to Apple School Manager,* sign in to or using your Apple Deployment Programs Agent account, then follow the onscreen instructions.

Apple School Manager is a centralized place to connect your mobile device management system and your student information system. My main problem is that Apple is not doing enough for K–12 schools. Apple School Manager should be a lot more.

Apple School Manager should provide student email accounts

I’ve long argued that Apple should offer an identity management system, but it’s clear they aren’t going to do that anytime soon. One thing they could do is to offer student email addresses and forwarding accounts for students. Teachers could still use school managed tools like G Suite and Office 365 for day to day operations, but they could leverage Apple’s tools for in-classroom operations. Students could use for student emails. IT departments wouldn’t have to manage them (nor configure MX records) but would have access to revoke passwords and monitor policies inside of Apple School Manager.

Build a “Login with iCloud” ecosystem with K–12 apps

One area Apple still has an opportunity in K–12 is with a login ecosystem. Despite the growth of G Suite, no one owns the K12 login experience yet. Clever is the closest to achieving this, and to be perfectly honest, Apple should buy them and integrate all of their K–12 services. It would give them an immediate in with 50% of the school districts in the US and a growing list of applications.

Apple School Manager should include basic MDM support

I love Jamf, and I don’t know if Apple should offer everything a product like Jamf does, but they should offer something in the way of cloud-based MDM support. Maybe they just offer application management for corporate devices, but should include something that smaller schools can leverage if they can’t afford a fully featured MDM.


I think my dream job would be to head up Apple’s K–12 strategy. After working in the business for the last decade, I know what drives schools in the IT office and in the classroom. Apple’s hardware strategy is solid, but they need to kick it into gear on services. I wrote a few weeks ago about why Apple is ignoring services in the enterprise. I don’t see them trying to compete with IBM and Microsoft in the enterprise services market, but they should be willing to go toe-to-toe with Google on K–12 services.

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Avatar for Bradley Chambers Bradley Chambers

Bradley lives in Chattanooga, TN where he manages Apple devices for a private school. 

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