At the heart of the Shared User feature is multi-user authentication. This allows for the user of the device to be repeatedly changed without an administrator’s intervention. The device will dynamically change based on the person using it at a given time, with the user logging into, or out of, the device using the Meraki Systems Manager app. This exceptionally simple self-service model allows a single iOS device to be easily used by multiple people with different needs.
A user can be assigned a device, or multiple devices, and this pairing allows for configurations, settings, applications, and other options to be automatically applied based on that specific person’s requirements. The list of users can be managed in the Meraki dashboard, or easily integrated into Active Directory.
Driven again by the requirements of educators, the Shared User feature is a natural extension of Teacher Assistant, enabling even more ways of learning with an iPad. Although of particular interest to those wishing to use iOS devices in a learning environment, the ability to easily support multiple users on one device has is useful in a number of situations.
Multi-user authentication can be enabled with a single checkbox in the Meraki dashboard under Systems Manager > Configure > General
The Meraki Systems Manager app acts as the interface for multi-user authentication. With multi-user authentication enabled in a Systems Manager network, a fourth option will now appear in the bottom navigation pane of the app called ‘User’. When a user goes to this page, it will give the user the option to login to the device if no user is already assigned, or they can log the current user out of the device.
When a new user logs into the app, the Meraki cloud will check to see what needs to be changed on the device and act accordingly. This could be new applications, alternate settings, or fewer restrictions than the device had previously.
Total control, complete customization
With Systems Manager’s dynamic tags, the user of the device can be checked along with other things such as time, location, and security profile, to allow for complete customization of a device, giving total control. For further information on tags refer to this article.
A great example of the practical use of tags and multi-user authentication, is to put devices into a locked state when no one is logged in. By creating a profile that places non-assigned devices into single app mode, they can be locked into the Meraki app preventing any activity other than the ability to log into the device. When a user logs in, their tags are applied and the configuration for the device is updated.
Start sharing your devices today
Start sharing your iOS devices today by signing up for a Systems Manager account here, free for 100 devices or less. Existing Systems Manager Standard customer who would like to take advantage of this, and other new features, can enable a free trial directly within the Meraki dashboard.
Here at Meraki we have been working on Systems Manager to further ease the burden on educators trying to integrate technology into the learning process. With a wealth of powerful features, mobile devices, such as tablets, can significantly enhance the learning process, but this wealth can also come at a cost. Distractions caused by features not relevant to education, can hinder student learning. Teachers skilled in running a classroom must play the role of digital cowboy or cowgirl, corralling errant students and devices.
We’re listening to your concerns and are announcing the release of some new Systems Manager features. These will compliment existing features, and create a comprehensive suite of controls for your classroom; in essence, a Teacher’s Assistant (TA) for your devices!
Pay attention now
Single App Mode forces Apple iOS devices, such as iPads, to display just a single app. When in this special mode, the specified app is the only thing the user of the device can interact with, even the settings menu of the device is unavailable.
With role-based administration, network admins can provide teachers with access to their classroom’s devices, making Single App Mode easy to integrate into the classroom. A teacher can use the intuitive Meraki dashboard to find a device, view its details, and then lock it to the desired application. Whatever the student is doing at the time will be replaced with the app chosen by the teacher, focusing classroom activity on one task and preventing distractions.
Teachers can easily select an app of their choice from a drop down menu listing the available apps on that device. A great way to stop the class from using the devices, and command attention to ‘bring eyes up front’, is to lock the devices to the Meraki MDM app, preventing it’s further use. When free use of the device is allowed, the device can be easily released by clicking the ‘Disable Lock’ button.
All together now
Having this level of control per iOS device is great, but what about a whole classroom? Systems Manager has this covered with the ability to command devices in bulk. A teacher can easily select the iPad, or other iOS devices they want to lock to an app by using the instant search box. For example, it only takes a couple of clicks to select all 3rd Graders iPads and lock them on to a single app.
With the power of instant search, any teacher can precisely choose the devices they want to control; however in large deployments, selecting the wrong set of devices is a possibility. This is where the new Limited Access Roles in the Systems Manager dashboard come into play. School IT staff can prevent mistakes and simplify the educator’s experience by defining roles relevant to their needs.
At a high level, a teacher is unlikely to manage Apple MDM certificates in the Meraki Dashboard. They are more likely to want to control the specific classes of iPads, leaving the advanced options to administrators. Using Meraki’s tagging concept, teaching staff can be assigned the groups of devices they will work with.
Tags can be updated dynamically, for example by time. This allows for teachers to be given control of different sets of devices depending on their schedule. Time is only one of the many dynamic tags available in Systems Manager, with others such as location, or the owner also being available. Further information is available here
Show and tell
AirPlay is great for allowing teachers to easily display their screens to the whole class, but what about students? This ease of use can become a problem without control. How do you prevent students from taking control of unsecured AppleTV devices? Securing them with a password provides access control but has other problems. How do you allow students to use AirPlay when you want, but prevent access when you don’t?
AirPlay settings can be pre-provisioned in Systems Manager so that student iOS devices have all the settings ready to use, including password.
This prevents students being given the password, while making the teacher’s life easier as all the settings are ready to use on the class devices, not just their own. They can select the student’s device they wish display, choose their classroom from the drop down, and click AirPlay.
Combining this functionality with app lock allows a teacher to have the whole class focused on their fellow student’s screen, not distracted by their own.
You will need this
Some of us here in the Meraki office remember carrying heavy bags laden with books. Worse, we remember getting in trouble for having left one behind! Fortunately students today are looked after by Systems Manager with the Backpack feature.
Backpack can automatically download files and content to devices, storing it for use. Not only does digital content delivery take the strain off young shoulders, but it ensures that nothing gets left behind and only the most up-to-date material is available for learning.
Along with documents, lesson plans, and test results delivered via Backpack; the Meraki MDM app provides students access to a library of managed apps. Students can have core apps automatically pushed to their device, but collections of extra curricula content can be offered. Again, managed through powerful tags, individual students, classes, or sets of devices, can be given the exact content they need.
A TA for every classroom
Putting educators first, while not limiting the powerful creative potential of technology, is an essential goal of making our schools ready for the future. With Systems Manager’s new features, you have a new Teacher’s Assistant helping you manage the digital classroom.
This Thursday, we’re hosting another highly anticipated webinar: “The Ultimate Guide to iOS Deployments for K-12.” Back by popular demand, this interactive session will explore Cisco Meraki Systems Manager as a solution to help schools manage their Apple educational devices.
We’ll share strategies for deployment and managing device content for student-owned or school-owned iOS devices, including supervising devices, enforcing restrictions, deploying apps, and more.
Learn about reporting and monitoring the devices on your network, get ideas for best practices for iOS restrictions, and hear about some of the schools that are already using Cisco Meraki Systems Manager on a large scale to manage their devices.
Join us on Thursday at 10 am PDT for Deploying Apple iOS in Schools!