Apple provides the Volume Purchasing Program for apps in the App Store for education (and business) customers. This is a significant change in how apps and books were handled in the past, and we will be instituting the new purchasing rules for our iPod touch and iPad cart deployments. The process is a little confusing, but we have developed a system that should make it a bit smoother for all of us. Unfortunately, it will be slower than what we have done in the past as it includes a card-by-mail-with-scratch-off process. We believe that we have, however, figured out a way to make it work at all buildings.
In order to properly license and deploy apps on to the cart iPod touches and iPads, we need to have a license for each device. Apple instituted the Volume Purchasing Program (VPP) in order to facilitate this process. It's still in its infancy, so any of the bumps we experience now will probably get resolved over the next several months. As it is, the VPP gives schools and developers things that they have needed in the past to make iPod touch and iPads "a go" in schools:
- Proper licensing by schools and compensation for developers (I know that some will argue this point, but we think it's the right way to go about it)
- Up to 50% discounts on 20 or more licenses for the same app- developers set this discount (and we encourage it!)
- Ability to use purchase orders (POs) to buy apps... removing the "gift card" or credit card hurdle for many school systems
- Sales tax no longer charged (and then reimbursed) for App store purchases
- Multiple distribution models are enabled (either one syncing machine or individual syncing stations)
The process for purchasing requires an "Authorized Purchaser" at the district or school level. This is not just for iTunes and apps, this person can also make purchases via PO or credit card in the education store for their institution. Up until this point, we had been "old school" and did everything via a faxed PO, working with our inside sales team at Apple Education in Austin to develop the quotes from our own saved quotes. This part of the process has been the most challenging to set up. If you already have an Authorized Purchaser (AP), then you are ahead of where we were.
Once set up, the AP then creates different accounts for people to be "Program Facilitators" (PFs), who will be able to actually get and distribute the license codes to the carts/teachers/students. The apps can then be purchased and downloaded and synced to the number of iPod or iPad devices for which they purchased a license. It is up to the PF and/or the teacher to track how many devices actually get the app loaded, there is not currently a way that iTunes can do that for us.
Here's the step-by-step process we went through to get set up to begin using the VPP:
- Created AP account for district technology purchaser to use for getting program vouchers
- We called this something like "firstname.lastname@example.org"
- Applied to become authorized to make VPP purchases
- We created PF accounts, managed by each building's technology specialist and pre-purchased and redeemed $200 in vouchers for each PF account for each cart in that building.
- This is done through a process working with your education inside sales team in Austin, and you set them up via a spreadsheet which is then entered into Apple's system- the process takes 3-5 days
- The PF accounts cannot be used on the iTunes store- these are specific to the VPP purchase process
- We set them up similar to "email@example.com" so that they are set to a school, not a person
- There is a separate agreement clause that presents itself the first time a PF logs in to the VPP web site which allows you to purchase multiple codes but use only one for syncing and distribution to multiple iTunes libraries and iOS devices. We have just gone ahead and done that for the PFs so that it wouldn't get missed. You have to agree to that so you can continue to sync the carts as we have done in the past.
At this point, you are set up and ready to roll for the VPP purchase process. In reading Apple's online VPP documentation, we understood that the VPP process in schools at the end-user level is assumed to be:
- Teacher finds an app they want,
- Teacher asks the PF to get them a download code (could be the same person, actually),
- PF then asks the AP to purchase a "voucher," using a PO or credit card, sold only in increments of $100, $500, $1,000, $50,00, and $10,000
- Apple turns around and sends back (via snail mail) a scratch-off card (like an iTunes gift card, but "different") called a "voucher"
- AP gets voucher to PF
- PF redeems the voucher here
- PF "purchases" the correct number of licenses/codes on that same site
- PF gets download codes (licenses) for the app equal to the number purchased
- PF gives those codes to the teacher/cart manager/student for them to download and install app
- Whew. New app? Rinse, repeat the above from step 1, unless there are "credits" left over from the previous "voucher"...which means that you can jump to step 7.
To make it simpler for our teachers and our building techs, here's the process we've lined out for Canby SD's iPod touch & iPad cart deployments:
- Teachers look for apps they want to put on their devices
- Teachers contact their building technology specialist when they need download codes
- Tech specialists log in to the PF account and purchase the license codes and email one to the teacher (this is similar to the "free song download" code at Starbucks- when the code is redeemed, it will automatically download that app)
- Teacher only needs one code to download the app and install it on all the iPod touches in the cart
- Tech specialists record all the license codes and the carts/devices they are installed on in the VPP 2010-11 Google spreadsheet form (available in the "firstname.lastname@example.org" Google Docs account), as well as the dollars expended by that purchase and track the total dollars spent to make sure that each cart is fairly being charged and accounted for.
We are researching some desktop applications that will allow us to remotely monitor and collect information about installed apps on the iOS devices. We'll have a blog article about that as soon as we land on something (if we do).
We encourage teachers to look for apps that come with a discount. Your building technology specialist can help you figure that out, or you can look yourself without having to log in by going to the VPP App Store.
We also encourage developers to consider discounting their apps for the purchase program, as schools and teachers are much more likely to purchase it if it's more affordable.