How long before we get caught out?

Image source – Apple.com

This morning this interesting tweet popped up on my Twitter feed…

Is it possible for schools to buy one app and share across all iPads without buying multiple copies?

— Rob Smith (@redgierob) October 15, 2016

After many years of being sceptical (before I became a teacher) about the value of tablet technology, and in particular the ubiquitous iPad, in classrooms I am now a real convert.  The ability to use technology to transform learning is enormous, with apps available to bring techniques never before available to every classroom, no matter what kind of setting.

However, this technology comes at a cost; schools and computing leaders must become more aware of this, particularly when it comes to copyright laws and distribution of apps across multiple devices.

Quick hands up, who is using one Apple ID on all the devices in their school, with no MDM solution?

You may (will) be breaking the law!

Several schools I have been involved with are falling foul of this issue.  When iPads were first introduced to UK schools there was no volume purchasing in place and nobody really saw how the technology would explode.  Consequently schools added devices year on year, just logging in with one Apple ID and paying for one copy of an app.  Now you may think this is an acceptable solution but put yourself in the mind of an app developer.  They get paid based on sales of their app, many will never fully recompense themselves for the hours they put in and they deliberately set their price low to increase school take up (Alan Peat apps are a great example of this).  So are we in effect stealing if we only pay for one copy?  Would you buy one copy of a book then photocopy it for everyone in school?

I am fully aware that, in these days of ever decreasing budget share, that schools are up against the wire financially.  However techn0logy is a big investment for any school and the possible fallout of falling foul of the law may outweigh the financial implications.  Careful management of apps will mean that only apps that are used in school will be deployed, freeing up space on devices for other things (how many times have you tried to film something to find the device full?).

Using an MDM solution to manage apps, coupled with Apple’s Volume Purchasing Program for education gives schools the ability to manage their devices effectively.  It protects schools from possible losses (a couple of weeks ago I was in a discussion with someone who had one of their school iPads stolen in a burglary – they were able to both disable the iPad and track its whereabouts to pass details on to the police) and allows schools to monitor the distribution of apps, buying less copies than there are devices and deploying to groups of iPads rather than to all.

This is the less glamourous side of tech in the classroom, but unless we all want to be branded as petty criminals then we need to get a grip of this before Apple do and start disabling our devices as the first step to recovery action.

I’m in the middle of setting up VPP and Device Enrolement Program right now, if anyone wants any advice or guidance then tweet me – I may not know the answer but I know lots of people who may be able to help.


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