Just how difficult could it be to distribute brand new iPads to every single pupil in a school? More difficult than you might think.
Fraser Speirs – caped superhero and Mac developer by night, school IT manager by day – has taken on the task at the school he works for in Scotland, and has started documenting the whole process for the benefit of anyone else who might be thinking of doing the same.
At a time when the British government is slashing spending in pretty much every department, including the Government quango that’s been overseeing IT in schools for the past 22 years, a programme like this is an interesting new departure. And perhaps a template.
It’s not without its difficulties, though.
Each iPad has to be synced to a Mac. And each app purchased has to be purchased via a specific App Store account. But each app can be synced to a maximum of five Macs at most – Apple’s rules. What’s the best way to purchase apps and transfer them to 100 iPads?
In this post from a week or so ago, Fraser mulled the options and plumped for one of them, but admitted it wasn’t the best solution.
Within hours of posting that, Apple announced the Volume Purchase Program, but after looking at it in detail, it still hasn’t solved Fraser’s problems. The Program is good for universities, he writes, but not for schools like his.
The arrangement the school’s settled on is complex, but allows teachers in any classroom to buy an app whenever they like without having to consult Fraser first, and for those apps to be made available to all classes automatically.
This is a fascinating series of posts, and has taught me a few things I didn’t know (like how configuration profiles work). Recommended reading.