There are three main solutions when you start looking at managing iPads and Macs. In our opinion, the top three Mobile Device Management (MDM) systems for Apple devices are Apple Profile Manager, ZuluDesk, and Jamf.

While you’ll see that all three share similar functions, we believe that you will get the most for your money if you purchase ZuluDesk because it was specifically designed for educators and has extra add-ons that you do not get with the other two systems.

About Apple Profile Manager

To start off, let’s talk about Apple Profile Manager. While this program has it’s perks, in our opinion it has the most limitations.  Apple Profile Manager allows you to quickly configure a large amount of devices at once and individual settings on iPads or Macbooks can be applied to either a user or a device. For example, if you want specific settings for a student, Apple Profile Manager allows you to apply the settings you want, and after that they will apply for all of that user’s devices. If you need to apply settings to the device only, you can do that as well. Therefore, the device settings will stay the same no matter who logs on.

There are also ways for the device manager to restrict specific functions or apps on iPads or Macbooks such as the camera, game center, or iMessage to eliminate potential distractions. This is a great function for teachers because it can be disheartening when students are playing on their iPads instead of paying attention to the lesson.

Apple Profile Manager allows you to lock and wipe devices if they fall into the wrong hands and Lion server will even help track a lost device. Because this management system is a first party system, you can call Apple for free support at any time. While these features are all incredibly useful, you’ll find that when compared to the other two systems in this article, Apple Profile Manager is the least complex.

A great selling point for Apple Profile Manager is that it will likely cost you the least amount of money out of all three, and it does not cost an annual fee, instead you pay a one time fee for a perpetual license. But because you’re paying less, this management system also comes with less.

While Apple Profile Manager has got you covered when it comes to recurring minor updates and support, it does not include major updates and you’ll have to deal with that on your own. This system can also put people off because it only manages devices with iOs 7 or later and requires an oS x Lion server back end. Some features are also only available if you have iOS11 (the most current iOS) or later, so if you don’t like to update your devices right away when the new iOS comes out, this might be problematic.

Many school districts require the management of tens of thousands of devices, but with this system the limit is 5,000 devices on a single server. If you know you’ll need to manage more devices than that, you should probably look for a more advanced mobile device management system.

About Jamf

Next, let’s talk about Jamf. With Jamf, devices can be wiped, quickly set up, and enrolled automatically with the Zero Touch feature. Zero Touch also allows students who attend BYOD schools to enroll their device at home without any help from an IT technician. Jamf has a lost mode and sends alerts when a device needs to be updated. The lost mode feature ensures that personal information does not fall into the wrong hands and disables the device. When in lost mode, you can also make the device play a sound to help locate it.

Jamf integrates with Apple School Manager in order to help administrators take control of the learning environment. Like ZuluDesk and Apple Profile Manager, Jamf has app distribution, which allows teachers to give individual groups or students access to apps and content, so learning is more customized. Jamf is cloud based, so students who have to share iPads can log in to a device by tapping on their photo to pick up where they left off. Teachers can also share student’s work on an Apple TV screen if they need to for presentations or collaborations.

A Jamf team member is assigned to every district so if a technical issue arises, quick and efficient customer service is on the way. With this program, you can manage thousands and thousands of devices at once. A feature called smart targeting allows you to manage your device inventory easily, so you’ll know when a device needs updates or maintenance. Jamf will keep your devices secure and updated at all times, and you can purchase either a recurring or perpetual license for payment.

While Jamf has some great features, it is the most expensive system out of all three in this article. We aren’t saying that Jamf isn’t worth your money, we just believe that if you want more features for less money, ZuluDesk might better fit your needs.

About ZuluDesk

Even though Jamf is a solid Mobile Device Management system, in our opinion, ZuluDesk wins the race. ZuluDesk is cost effective, easy to use, and has all of the tools you’ll need. Technically speaking, ZuluDesk has many similar features to both Apple Profile Manager and Jamf.  

Devices can be assigned to specific apps according to class groups or to individual students and teachers can restrict specific functions, apps, or websites deemed inappropriate. ZuluDesk has a lost mode, and also sends alerts to help the IT team keep track of any problems or updates the devices may need. Students can access personal data just by logging into their account because the data is all stored on iCloud. The classroom app helps teachers share assignments and manage student devices because they can view the apps students are using, share student work on the TV monitor, and reset student passwords.

A feature that makes this system unique is that ZuluDesk encourages the collaboration between student and teacher, so teachers can easily send a message to the whole class or an individual student using the chat feature on the classroom app. Jamf does not include a feature like this, nor does Apple Profile Manager. ZuluDesk teacher has everything teachers need to organize lesson plans and make the internet safe and enjoyable. Teachers can prepare lesson profiles for class and prevent student access from apps that are not preset to each specific lesson profile. 

The biggest difference between the two other systems and ZuluDesk is that both lack parental controls. Parents can restrict their child’s device at home just as teachers can, which ensures that students are practicing internet safety at home. At school, the iPads only work with school apps, and social media sites are restricted from student access. At home, however, students have more freedom with what they can use. We know how much parents worry about what their children do online, and with this program, parents can set boundaries for what websites or applications they do not want kids to use. Parents can also limit the amount of time students spend on the device if they desire.

ZuluDesk is more expensive than Apple Profile Manager, yet cheaper than Jamf. You also only have the option of paying annually instead of a perpetual license for payment.

As a result, even though Jamf and Apple Profile Manager have their advantages, we think with ZuluDesk you get the most for your money. ZuluDesk was designed to ensure that K-12 students are using the internet appropriately both at school and at home for a budget friendly price.  We hope that you can make a more educated decision about which Mobile Device Management System would work best for your district.

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