It seems to be a fairly new frontier, iPads, school districts and IT. It’s not that iPods and iPads haven’t been in the schools until recently but rather the plan for how to set up iTunes accounts, monitor users, and purchase apps for these devices has been sorely lacking. In most schools in my district, the iPads are monitored by 1 individual teacher and apps are purchased through a volume purchasing program. This works relatively well when the iPads are contained within one building and when teachers are given a fair amount of control over the purchasing and running their devices.
But what happens when a group of SLPs wants to purchase 50 iPads? 50 SLPs who are scattered across the district in separate buildings. We need some way of making volume purchases but also have enough individual control to make app purchases for our particular caseload. In our district this is uncharted territory. We can’t allow district funds to be used to fund apps purchased through personal iTunes accounts or even individual work iTunes accounts (using work email, etc.) because when an SLP leaves the district, so do the apps. So what we are left with is 1 Volume Purchasing Program account from which all agreed upon apps are purchased and anything additional must be funded by the individual SLP from their own personal account. This allows the district to control or monitor the devices as they choose, ensures that each of the 50 iPads will contain a consistent selection of apps and that district funds will not be wasted on apps that may or may not disappear if an SLP leaves the district. What it doesn’t do, however, is allow SLPs to purchase additional apps that would benefit their specific caseload or new apps as they come onto the scene without using their own money. In addition, our district has not been able to set up remote app installation. This means that every time we want to download apps we must bring our iPads to one central location to have the apps downloaded.
The best idea I’ve found is to create individual district iTunes accounts specific to the individual iPad. These accounts wouldn’t follow specific SLPs but rather would be assigned to specific iPads. For example, iPad1@xxx.k12.or.us, iPad2@xxx.k12.or.us, iPad3@xxx.k12.or.us and so on. Each of these accounts could be set up without a credit card and app purchases could be made using iTunes gift cards after district approval. This would allow SLPs to download apps with district allotted funds and ensure that apps remain in the district even after SLPs move on. The one downside is simply that not all iPads would have the same apps. I find this issue to be fairly minimal in that all the iPads would have a consistent set of apps purchased through the Volume Purchasing Program ensuring that each SLP in the district would have a functional set of apps on their iPad. And worst case, they have some additional apps just for fun.
Check out Bob Dronski’s post on Moms with Apps for an inside look at how districts are managing accounts.