Wednesday, January 12, 2011

iTunes Volume Purchase Program for Apps

Before Apple clarified its iTunes store policies, it was common practice for educators to pay for an app one time and then load it on several devices. With the advent of the Volume Purchase Program and the new iTunes store Terms of Service, those days are past. If you haven't heard about the (relatively) new iTunes Volume Purchase Program, here's how it works -- at least for us.

First, you have to have an authorized purchaser set up a "master" account known as the Program Facilitator. The Program Facilitator purchases apps and receives the codes for downloading the apps (one code per device).

To get a Program Facilitator account, you have to have an authorized purchaser for your school or district contact your Apple education sales rep. There is limited information about this process on the Volume Purchase Program FAQ page. This is the only part of the process I am a little fuzzy on, as it was handled at the district level through our purchasing department.

Before you can buy an app, you need a Volume Voucher. This is essentially code you purchase and enter on the Volume Purchase Program site so you can buy apps. Vouchers can be purchased through your education sales representative. Once you have your Program Facilitator account and a Volume Voucher, you log in to to redeem the voucher. This adds credit to your Program Facilitator account, which allows you to buy apps.

The Program Facilitator searches for and buys apps. After a short wait, a spreadsheet of Redeem Codes becomes available for download at in the Program Facilitator account. Those codes can be distributed to users so they can download the app themselves; or, if you are syncing a set of iPads to a single computer, use one code to download the app and then maintain the rest of the codes for auditing purposes.
While this process may seem somewhat mysterious, it actually works pretty efficiently. It's nice to be able to receive codes that can be distributed to teachers or other uses who manage their own syncing, and although the price is considerably more than only buying the app once, at least most apps are discounted approximately 50%.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Accessing Web Content with Read It Later

I've been experimenting with Read It Later, a free app and website that allows you to save web pages for access on your iPad or other device. My colleague BegoƱa Cowan discovered this tool during a frenzy of app-hunting over the holiday break, and I think it has a lot of promise for organizing and sharing online resources for student access. Here's how it works.

The teacher logs in to a single shared account at There are a variety of third-party plug-ins and applications for managing Read It Later content, but so far I am content with the Read It Later bookmarklet. By dragging the bookmarklet to your Safari bookmarks bar, you enable your browser to save and tag web pages for future access.

When you click the Read It Later bookmarklet, a box pops up
telling you the page has been saved. You can then tag or rename that page if you wish. I am tagging links with the room number of the students who will need the link, as well as the general topic. First graders are studying Native Americans right now, so I have tagged this page as 106 tlingit. Students in 106 who are studying the Tlingit tribe will be able to find this resource easily on the iPad.
When viewing pages on the iPad in the Read It Later app, students can choose either the article view (text only) or the full web page view. The pages are downloaded to the iPad when the app is opened, so you can access the article later without an Internet connection.

Students can also add and tag sites as their research skills become more sophisticated, making Read It Later a handy shared repository of sites to support learning and research.

There are other apps, such as Instapaper and Evernote, that have similar functionality. I like the simplicity of Read It Later for our young students, but you may want to investigate other apps as well.