App Licensing and School iPads

apple-ipad-mini-prWhen your school makes the move to mobile devices and buys a set of iPads it is important that you understand that setting them up in a school is different to setting them up for use at home.

At home you take your shiny new iDevice and connect it to iTunes. With iTunes and the app store you can share the apps you purchase between all of the devices you own up to a maximum of six. Apple also allow you to use Family Sharing so that other members of your family can share a single iTunes account. With Family Sharing its much easier for you to manage which apps your family have on their devices - particulalrly useful if you have young children with a device each as you only have to purchase their favourite apps once. You could even set up one device - save a backup to iTunes and restore it to another so that the apps and setup of both devices is identical. 


Things are very different if you are a school. If you buy iPads for use in school you could technically use the same route as if you were a family but your apps wouldn't be licenced. Much in the same way as you can't use  home licence for windows on your PCs.

In schools you must ensure that you have a copy of every app for every device that will have that app installed. The way you purchase apps is through something called the Volume Purchasing Program.

Once your school has registered for VPP and added your credit card details into the system you can purchase app licenses to use in school. The good news is that if you buy 20+ apps you will get them at a  discount. This typically runs at around 50% of the original price. 


You can sign up for VPP by visiting and going to "Enroll Now" It is generally better for the school admin team to complete this part of the process as the email addresses and Apple IDs created here will be used for purchasing apps only. This means that the admin team control purchasing of apps and all of the invoices stay with the people that need to keep them for their records. Setting up VPP can be a long process as Apple need to verify that you are a school that is eleigible for the program and there is some of the usual leagalese type stuff to wade through. You can also set up Two-Factor authentication meaning that every time you try to log in it sends you a code in an email of text message. When you purchase an app the licence you want will depend on your deployment model - see below. If you are using MDM select "Managed Distribution". If you are using configurator select "Redemption Codes"

It is still importnant to set up VPP though as Apple are very clear about the need to have an app per device - the terms and conditions state

"If you are a commercial enterprise or educational institution, you may download and sync an App Store Product for use by either (a) a single individual on one or more iOS Devices used by that individual that you own or control or (b) multiple individuals, on a single shared iOS Device you own or control. For example, a single employee may use an App Store Product on both the employee's iPhone and iPad, or multiple students may serially use an App Store Product on a single iPad located at a resource center or library. For the sake of clarity, each iOS Device used serially by multiple users requires a separate license."

If your teachers want to install free apps you should also "purchase" them through VPP - you will see why later. 


Once I have bought my apps what next?


There are a few deployment models you could use to get the apps onto the devices and which one you use will depend on how many devices you have and which one you feel fits your situation best.


Method one - using Apple configurator


Using a Mac you install Apple Configurator - With Apple Configurator you can deploy apps - you will need redemption codes from VPP to enter into configurator if it is a paid app. You will also need a copy of iTunes on your Mac to allow you to download apps to deploy with configurator. Configurator allows you to roll out "profiles" to the devices. Typically the profiles will contain information about how to link to your wifi


Method two - Using a Mobile Device Management Solution


The main advantage of using a MDM solution is that you don't have to collect the devices in to install apps. You just "push" them out to the devices as and when new apps are purchased. You can alls use your MDM system to track where the devices are, how full they are getting, which apps are installed and even how much battery is left.

There are a number of MDM solutions available including Lightspeed, Meraki and Apple's own offering. Typically we tend to use Meraki as it is free of charge.


You will need to do the following to get Meraki working.

  • setup an account for the school
  • login to the system
  • in your VPP account download your service token
  • upload your VPP service token to Meraki
  • from now the two accounts are linked so any purchases you make through VPP will appear in Meraki
  • each device will need an Apple ID creating for it - to create the Apple ID each device needs an email address. 


When your devices arrive

run apple configurator on the Mac and set up your iPads as "Supervised Devices"

in configurator push out a profile with credentials to connect to the school Wi-Fi

plug the iPads in one at a time so that the profiles get pushed out and they are consecutively numbered

enrol the iPads with Meraki by going to Monitor>Clients>Add Devices  there are a few options for how you can do this.

once the devices are enrolled they will appear in Meraki in the "Monitor" tab

In Meraki go into the MDM>VPP tab and open an app

Deploy the licences to your selected devices this includes free apps "purchased" through vpp

In Meraki go into MDM>Apps and add the app you just "purchased" by choosing Add App>IOS App


The first app I generally add is the Meraki app as it allows Meraki to accurately monitor the location of the device.

The reason that you need to "purchase" free apps through VPP is that the deploy is a two part process. In Meraki the first stage of the app deploy is to send the licence to the device.  The second stage prompts the device to install it. If you don't deploy the licence first, the device will request that the Apple ID is entered. This is a real pain when you have a lot of devices to deal with which pretty much defeats the object of using an MDM solution in the first place.


The process can be quite daunting if you are doing it for the first time or if you need to make the switch from the iTunes model mentioned earlier. 

Apple RTC logoAs an Apple Regional Training Centre

The Learning Technologies Innovation Team are available to help your school set up your devices for MDM and your school for VPP.

If you need any advice on the process please contact us.

 You can get more information about the Apple T&Cs here