Volume Licensing by Apple

Within our school we have a number of iPads. There are about 10 tablets reserved for various groups and often the small number that we have get circulated among different classes. These iPads have allowed us to simply test iPad capabilities as we venture into using more across our college.

The management of these devices and also the ability to control applications for these is tedious. At times, in fact, it is almost painful because the devices do not have 3G and rely completely on wireless and as the classrooms do not have WiFi, you can only imagine the predicament that we often face in regards to updating applications and installing new educational software or widgets. The iPads that we do have are often returned to IT for updating and app purchase. Imagine the time investment when iPads are on mass!

A recent connection of mine through Twitter announced the arrival of Apple Volume Licensing in Australia. This announcement has been news that every school that has introduced iPads or Mac Books to schools has been waiting for. Schools that are planning to adopt a 1-to-1 strategy have also been waiting for this news because it means systematic, methodical and fast operation of software purchase and downloads and installation. Music to the news of any IT Department. Upon my investigation, I see that Volume Licensing is only for Mac and iPads need to wait in line a little longer to receive service.

According to the Apple website, "Education customers can purchase Apple software directly from Apple... deploy Apple software to every Mac in your business or educational institution" (http://www.apple.com/au/mac/volume-licensing/). This fact means that managing Mac Books within a school environment is going to be easy and will pass responsibility of downloading required applications to the student body who will simply receive a redemption code after IT have conducted their needed work. This means that with WiFi connectivity within a school, students can install applications when personally convenient.

At this moment there are only particular applications that are available for Apple Volume Licensing and they include Keynote, Pages, Numbers, iMovie, Final Cut and GarageBand. The only problem I foresee within our school is that we would potentially have hundreds of students downloading applications at the same time and this could put pressure on the network. Imagine 200 CAPA students downloading iMovie and Final Cut simultaneously. It would be similar to drinking the world's thickest thick shake with a drinking straw. Possible... but... extremely slow. Painfully exhausting and simply ridiculous. For this reason particular locations need to be available for students to connect their device using Thunderbolt connection for rapid installation.

I recently read this and couldn't say it better...

"Regardless of how iPads are deployed, iOS device management becomes an interesting issue. For starters, how does a school deal with the issue of students putting apps onto iPads? If the iPad is a shared resource, then having students install or remove apps can be a significant problem. Apple’s iOS deployment tools (developer.apple.com/library/ios) can help with locking down elements of the operating system and making it easy to push new apps onto devices using your wireless network.

Application licensing is also a concern. When an app is bought through the App Store it’s only licensed for one user. That means that the practice of setting up one reference iPad, backing it up and then restoring that installation onto multiple iPads will result in breaching the software licensing conditions.

Apple is addressing this with a volume licensing program in the United States. There’s no word on when that will be coming to Australia, however.

Where students are allocated an iPad for their own use, life gets a little easier. iOS apps can be added to the school booklist and students can be given iTunes Store vouchers in order to buy apps themselves and set the device up to suit themselves.

In fact, schools which have had great success with the iPad have found that students given responsibility for the iPads and permission to personalise them have looked after them and used them in ways the teachers never imagined. Students have even bought their own apps for completing tasks, enjoying the freedom from being spoon-fed by teachers".

http://www.macworld.com.au/blogs/ipad-goes-to-school-25869/

So... I wonder if the recent release of Volume Licensing for Mac Books means that it is only a matter of time until Volume Licensing is available for iPads in Australia. Its been available in the US for what would seem like a lifetime. Once Volume Licensing is released, the frustration that plagues schools in the management of iPads will continue to be the vain of our existence. One think is certain, the Mac Book will be more serviceable with the latest release by Apple. Following the timeline and thread of discussion regarding iPad Volume Licensing indicates that the switch is only just around the corner. So... get ready... because next year it is inevitable that we will be able to manage iPads for the entire academic year with simplicity and ease of app deployment and refreshment.

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