BCE’s IT teams were manually deploying and provisioning devices for new students at the start of every school term. The environment included iPads, MacBooks and Windows PCs running different applications, configurations and operating systems. The team had to individually list IP addresses for Apple ID registration, upload virtual images onto Windows and MacOS devices, and negotiate limited bandwidth while manually registering each machine.
With no central device management platform in place, average deployment phases took weeks to complete and consumed unsustainable amounts of labour and resources.
Paul Saltmarsh, Senior IT Officer at BCE says: “There were weeks where we did nothing else but manually deploy thousands of devices across our 147 sites. The process could take more than 40 minutes per device, plus having to log into each device to manually install required applications and folders. It really sapped our team’s time and energy.”
This digital complexity and inefficiency continued to the classrooms. Vikesh Anand, IT Manager at St Dympna’s Catholic Primary School, one of the BCE schools, says: “More than ten minutes of each lesson would be spent logging students in, with missing applications or device issues often disrupting classes. These distractions, coupled with frequent shifts between device and OS types across the course of their learning, really affected students’ focus and their enthusiasm to learn.”
The lack of visibility over the entire device stack also impeded BCE’s aim to nurture an ‘always-on’ learning mindset within their secondary student cohort. Tony Bear, IT Business Manager at Chisholm Catholic College, BCE, says: “We wanted the older students to be able to take their devices home – to help both with schoolwork and to promote a sense of responsibility in their ownership. But to successfully do so, we had to have a management system that allowed us to virtually set user permissions, while also giving students the freedom to navigate through the web, knowing they would be supported by our team if and when needed.”