Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Using iOS Devices and Apple Configurator With SMART Amp - It Can Be Done!

Several months ago, I blogged about my experiences with piloting the new SMART amp Collaborative Learning software released by SMART Technologies.  You can read this blogpost by going to http://edtechmorah.blogspot.com/2014/05/kindergarteners-collaborating-yes-they.html.  I wrote about collaboration vs. cooperation, maximizing device independence, and last but not least, the technical specifications of using SMART amp with GAFE (Google Apps for Education).

Now that school is about to start, it's time to set up my school's iPad carts for deployment using Apple Configurator.  For those of you who are new to using iPads in your school, Apple Configurator is an app that makes it easy for anyone to mass configure and deploy iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch in a school, business, or institution.  It is a free app that can be found in the Mac App Store (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/apple-configurator/id434433123?mt=12).  Apple Configurator allows me to supervise the iPads while setting up the restrictions, security, and other important features beforehand.  When Apple Configurator is properly used to manage and supervise the students' iPads, I don't have to worry that the students are using the devices in an appropriate manner.

For those of you who are new to SMART amp, the software is entirely web based.  It is stored "in the cloud" as opposed to being stored on your computer's hard drive.  SMART amp software is hosted on the Google Cloud Platform, therefore your school must be a GAFE school in order to run the software.  When a user goes to the SMART amp website (https://www.smartamp.com/) in order to start using it, the device one is using must actually connect to many other websites in order to successfully run the software.



Knowing the facts above, I knew I was going to need SMART Tech's help in order to obtain the entire list of websites that need to be allowed in Apple Configurator in order for SMART amp to run.  SMART Tech was very helpful in providing me a long list of websites; however SMART amp was still being restricted on the iPads.  I could not figure out why.  Therefore, for the time being, I lifted the security restrictions for all websites on the iPads.  Of course, this was not ideal.  I knew I would be in this particular classroom with kindergarten students working with the students in small groups when they would be using SMART amp on the devices.  Because of that, I was not afraid of them accessing websites with inappropriate content.  I was not going to give up and I was determined to find a long term solution before the next school year.

During the third week of July, I was one of 76 (SEEs) SMART Exemplary Educators who attended the Global SEE Summit at SMART Technologies in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  During that week, we were given intensive professional development and had the chance to meet many members of SMART Tech's team, including marketing, product development, and software development.  One of the highlights of my week was being part of the Hackathon.  During the Hackathon, I was able to meet with product developers and give them my ideas and feature requests for SMART amp software.

It was at this point that I resumed experimenting with Apple Configurator and its Web Content Filtering settings in order to enable SMART amp to run.  Shortly after, I discovered there were two websites that SMART Tech did not realize are necessary in order to run SMART amp, specifically because it is Google Platform based:

These include: https://plus.google.com/ (the website for Google Plus) and https://accounts.youtube.com. These two websites were blocking SMART amp on Safari on iOS Devices.  In the back of my mind, I should have known this already, as Google Plus is necessary in order to use SMART amp.  Second, when connecting through Google, one can often find the site https://accounts.youtube.com in the browser between connections.  As soon as I whitelisted these websites in Apple Configurator, I was able to connect to SMART amp successfully.  I was happy that during the hackathon, I was finally able to successfully hack into an issue I was dealing with for months.

I then had the pleasure of sitting and working with Colin Dere, one of the developers at SMART, as he added a few more websites in order to ensure that SMART amp will fully run with Apple Configurator.  I am including screenshots of the final list of websites that need to be whitelisted in Apple Configurator below.  SMART Technologies is continuing to work on a shorter list of websites that one will need to whitelist in Apple Configurator.  I will repost this information as soon as I receive it.  



If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me.  You should have a much easier time connecting now.  Good luck!



3 comments:

  1. The app is useful whenever you need to study really hard to improve your performance, just visit the site on apps for college for more information.

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