St. Cuthbert's College - Auckland, New Zealand case study

St. Cuthbert’s College

St. Cuthbert’s College is regarded as one of the best schools in New Zealand, with a focus on excellence, development, community, and innovation. As a school that is 12 years into a one-to-one laptop program, they have long been ahead of the technology curve. The only thing they were lacking was a management solution that complemented the school’s esteemed reputation and advanced technology.

But not anymore.

Now they’re keeping pace with all the technology needs of the 1,470 students at the all-girls private school. With the Casper Suite, the IT technicians at St. Cuthbert’s College said they have been able to do “more with the same.”

An intelligent solution

Previously, the deployment system at St. Cuthbert’s College was built around a monolithic imaging process, with images that stayed on the machines for three years after their initial deployment. No additional software updates, applications, or new versions were routinely applied after that first deployment. For each new model that came in, a new image was built. They were managing nine different images for the various stages of machine deployment.

If that sounds unsettling, Andy Parker—Director of Information and Technologies at St. Cuthbert’s College—would probably agree. 

Andy had been on the team for six months when they adopted the Casper Suite into their environment in October of 2011. He said using monolithic imaging at his previous job didn’t sit comfortably with him, and he got the same feeling when he started at St. Cuthbert’s College.

“The time to deploy all of these images was taking too long. We had no visibility over what was on the student’s devices, or if they had the software that was supposed to be installed,” said Andy. “There weren’t users taking charge of their own machines, so they would have to come to us for us to install the latest version of Microsoft Office. You’d have students queuing up to get minor work done...or not done.”

Student MacBooks are on a three-year refresh cycle, with parents covering the cost of the machines and the IT department supporting their needs. At a certain age, students are able to choose between the OS X and Windows platforms. As popularity of the Mac in education has increased, so have the number of Apple devices at St. Cuthbert’s College. But without a comprehensive management solution, the IT department was only able to do so much. And hiring additional staff simply wasn’t an option.

“We had to find a more intelligent solution—a smarter way of working. The Casper Suite has enabled us to do that without changing our headcount,” said Andy. “Any school that is considering some form of one-to-one program really has to have a management solution like the Casper Suite.”

Unforseen benefits

With the Casper Suite, they’re now using package-based imaging and Self Service for their deployments. Instead of students and teachers asking for help installing software, they request that new software be put into Self Service. Andy said they initially saw Self Service as being a perk that came along with the Casper Suite, but is now one of the crucial building blocks for the management system they’ve built. The students and staff love feeling empowered to maintain their own machines, as well as having access to their applications and updates when they’re off campus. 

They’re also using the Casper Suite for software usage management in their labs and workstations, as well for analyzing the number of lab spaces they are providing to students. Policy logs have helped notify IT of any failures so they can seek out students when a problem is reported, rather then the student finding out there is an issue down the road.

Additionally, the Casper Suite has freed up resources to enable the department to perform hardware repairs onsite, speeding up the turnaround time in this area. And as a cross-platform college, they’re able to use Recon to pull all their Windows inventory information into one single console. They’re also taking advantage of the Casper Suite’s integration with WebHelp Desk for the Windows users.

With initial expectations to use the Casper Suite as an imaging solution, Andy’s IT department has continued to discover non-anticipated benefits. Plus, they simply have less students coming in with fewer problems.

Like a gift that keeps giving

A unique use case of the Casper Suite is Andy’s plan to utilize user-initiated enrollment of OS X devices, a Casper Suite feature that coincided with the release of OS X Mountain Lion. With the New Zealand school year beginning in January, parents often give the MacBooks to the students for Christmas, offering the perfect scenario to put user-initiated enrollment to work.

“We’ll have to get the devices to the parents so they can get them under the Christmas trees. And then what we want to happen is: the girls can get along while they’re at home, enroll the devices, get the Self Service application, install applications, and come to school ready to go,” said Andy. “And we don’t need to do any deployment or imaging—we’ll do nothing to it. We want to become zero-touch on the devices.”

The holiday seasons for Andy’s team might just be a little bit merrier in years to come. 

Being nice to the new kid

Around St. Cuthbert’s College, the iOS program is kind of like the “new kid” at school. Although there has been long term success and comfort with the one-to-one laptop model, students and staff have responded very positively to this new program. Currently they have a shared iPad model for certain grade levels—about 10 iPads for 25 students. And like OS X management, Andy’s team is experiencing the same pleasant surprises and unexpected benefits with iOS.

“We really like the way you can publish eBooks. One of our grade two classes wrote an eBook and they wanted to share it,” said Andy. “We dropped it into the Casper Suite and pushed it out to all the iPads. The girls could look at it within a few minutes.”

Andy said the ability to share internally created content has been extremely beneficial. They’re also using Self Service to publish App Store apps, ensuring students download the correct apps and don’t have to go out searching for them. On top of the shared iPad model, they manage about a dozen Senior Management iPhones, providing relief that they can lock or wipe those devices from a central console without having to know any Apple ID or credentials.

With a group of teachers testing more iPads in the classroom, Andy anticipates their iOS numbers will increase rapidly and that they’ll soon be supporting a two-to-one program, as well as a BYOD program.

“A lot of them already have their own iPad and iPod touch devices. So we expect to use the Casper Suite to enforce the policies,” said Andy. “It’s great because we’ve got the flexibility to enforce restrictions on content, and push out configuration profiles and Wi-Fi settings. Otherwise we’d have to configure a method for them to access the wireless network, and configure proxy settings.”

It looks like the new kid is going to fit in just fine. 

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