With many schools now starting to run trials on iPads or iPod Touches, I have been wondering how best to manage buying and deploying apps on these devices in an educational setting.
There is, of course, a wealth of apps available via the App Store in iTunes (in fact, just recently the 10 billionth app was downloaded). And buying and installing those apps is remarkably simple. Like all things though, the devil is in the detail. The detail, in this case, is the Terms and Conditions that you agree to when purchasing.
iTunes terms and conditions
You can find links to all of the iTunes Store Terms and Conditions online. There are different ones for each country, but essentially they say the same thing. Here’s the relevant snippet from the New Zealand iTunes Store Terms and Conditions…
APP STORE PRODUCT USAGE RULES
(i) You may download and sync a Product for personal, noncommercial use on any Apple-branded products running iOS (“iOS Product”) you own or control.
(ii) If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download and sync a Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more iOS Product you own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared iOS Product you own or control. For example, a single employee may use the Product on both the employee’s iPhone and iPad, or multiple students may serially use the Product on a single iPad located at a resource center or library.
So, for home use you can purchase an app and put it on as many iOS devices as you own or control, but for education, you need to purchase a copy of the app either for each user, or for each device.
Fair enough you might say, and I agree. But how exactly do you go about doing that?
What about purchasing multiple copies at one time?
There is no option in the App store to purchase multiple copies at a time, and once you have purchased an app, if you try to purchase it again, then you get a dialogue box telling you that you already own it, and asking if you would like to download it again. You cannot pay a second time from the same account.
So that would appear to leave you with the only option of setting up an account for each iOS device that your school owns. This would seem painful, even if you just owned a few. But I’d find it completely intolerable for any more than 10 or 20. Even if you could bring yourself to do this, you need to think about things like:
- If you attach your school credit card to each of those accounts, then you are somewhat exposed in terms of not needing to go through normal auditing procedures to gain approval and make purchases.
- I am sure the accounts person would not thank you for creating an unnatural number of entries in the accounts system. If you owned 50 devices, then each of your 50 iTunes accounts would create one credit card transaction per device for every app you purchased. Twenty apps would create a thousand entries.
- If you buy iTunes gift cards for each account, you will undoubtedly end up with at least some credit on each one. Multiply that by enough devices and it could still end up being quite a lot of money unspent and sitting in individual accounts.
- Every time you want to roll out a new app you would need to log into each of those accounts separately to purchase it, and then sync the correct device to that account.
The volume purchase programme—applies in the U.S. only
To be fair I should mention that if you were in the United States you could register your school or university with the volume purchase program, and then you could purchase as many copies as you like of any app whose developer has agreed for it to be part of that programme. You would then receive codes for each copy that you could use on the individual devices to download a copy from the App Store. Unfortunately, the volume purchase programme is not available outside of the U.S., however.
iOS are single-user devices
Although deploying apps onto school-owned iOS devices is a fraught process, it does serve to highlight the fact that iOS devices are not designed for multiple users. I believe that their educational potential will only be realised when schools embrace them as single-user devices. I probably should tease out my thinking on this in another blog post.
iOS devices, the App Store and digital citizenship in schools
I would be interested to hear what schools (particularly in places like New Zealand) are doing to overcome these issues.
I am guessing some will be ignoring, or be ignorant of, them. But I would hope, that along with the greater emphasis on digital citizenship in our schools, there are also greater efforts to comply with the terms and conditions that Apps are purchased under.
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