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So where are schools at with Volume Purchasing?

Started by Jacqui Sharp 06 Nov 2012 4:44pm () Replies (119)


I have one school that has it set up on 90 iPads. It seems to be working ok except for finding certain apps. Have any other schools out there started it? I would be interested to hear how it is going, any problems or hints to help out other schools?


  • Amy McCauley (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 8:03am ()

    I have been trying to get my head around Config for months and months now, just when I thought all was great - 22 ipads successfully set up with config.  I went to put more apps on and nothing!  It would not work.

    Fustration levels through the roof, I was speaking to a person at our IT support company and he has been looking into a free (for schools) web-based software called Meraki.

    I put a question out on Twitter asking if anyone had used this before & Chris Goodrich (in the U.K - @cgood77) gave me a link to his blog post about setting up and using Meraki: Meraki Mobile Device Management.

    I have seen the dashboard you get and seems like a great system. As this is web-based you can update/ add apps from anywhere and you do not need to connect the iPads to your computer.  You can also get a lot of other information from the dashboard including where the iPads are (like find my iphone), how much battery life is left on each iPad, when it was last connected...and the list goes on.  You can also use VPP vouchers for paid apps.

    I am going through it with our IT guru tomorrow, so fingers crossed!  As I said to him, can't be harder than config!

  • Caroline Taylor-Levey (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 8:20am ()

    Hi Amy,

    I am responsible for,the smooth (hahaha) running of the 53 IPads in my school. I have been using Meraki Moblie Device Managment since we set the IPads up before the Summer Holidays. I think it is brilliant, although, I have never tried anything else. Meraki enables you to tag IPads, this enables you to group them which makes it easier to send different apps to different IPads. In practice it means that I can purchase 32 copies of GarageBand and make sure that this app only goes to IPads tagged "seniors" because that is who,I want to have GarageBand. You can also see the profile of each ipad. In my school I have setbup the policy that only apps that I push through via Meraki may be installed. This means that there is better organisation and continuity of apps between syndicates and all apps are there for educational purposes, not just for novelty value or gaming. Hope this helps! Kia ora ;0)

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 12:02pm ()

    Caroline, I'm intrigued that you're using Meraki. I had never heard of it, but late last year one of our techs mentioned that they had an additional system that worked alongside Configurator, and would enable us to sync by wifi and do other updates etc. With Configurator, you have to plug in devices to update them. I liked the sound of this, so arranged for a tech to come and do this for us before school started back this year.

    It's been a nightmare, with multiple glitches over about 3 attempts so far (and using only Configurator this last time). It was at the first attempt that I found out that Meraki was the product that would make life easier for us. But there was some problem with using it during that first setup. It was abandoned, and my understanding initially (which may be seriously flawed) was that it could only be used with free apps, not paid ones. Well, that seemed ridiculous. My understanding now is that it is only useful for BYOD systems, not for school-owned devices. It may be that once an app license is issued through this system, it cannot be pulled back to use on a different school device. That seems a bit strange to me, so I'm interested to know what you have found.

    Are you using Meraki to deploy paid as well as free apps to school owned devices?

    Have you been able to pull back licenses to re-issue them to a different school owned device?

    What happens with app updates - do they still each download 30 or 50 times etc?

    Does it enable syncing of iBooks (for student-made eBooks) or iTunes playlists (and I'm not talking about illegally syncing music).


  • Caroline Taylor-Levey (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 8:38pm ()

    Hi Carol, Yes I do using Meraki to deploy paid as well as free apps. The way it works is you purchase the codes via the VPP and then paste them into the Meraki. After that you deploy the apps to the devices you want them to go to, this could be all or only certain groups.

    Not sure what you mean by pulling back purchases but if you mean that you have previously purchased apps and that want to send them to a device then the answer is I am not sure. Last year (before we had Meraki) we had 2o+ iPads. The apps were purchased through one school apple id that all the Ipads were logged into. Now that the VPP has come along we, in a sense, started over. This was so that a) we had enough licences for the the apps we were using and b) there was continuity between apps throughout the school. Therefore the apps that were purchased last year on old old apple Id account became void. Not certain how you can get around this one tbh but it made very little difference to us, we needed to do it properly.
    App updates are sent to the devices and the teachers or students put in the group/syndicate Apple Id password to enable it to update. The apple Ids that are set up hold no credit card or payment details so no student can put in the password and go shopping! I am alerted if anyone tries to install a rogue app also through e-mail because all the apple ID s are linked to my school admin email address.
    Syncing of iBooks can still occur through connecting the iPad to the computer. Hope this helps, clear as mud?

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 9:05pm ()

    That's really interesting, thank you Caroline.

    So, you're not using Configurator at all.

    By pulling back apps, I mean eg say you want to switch a particular app from one group of (say) 5 iPads to another group. You would want to release the license codes from the first group and transfer them to the other 5 iPads. Would you be able to do that? I know that if you actually give VPP codes to others to redeem, then they are gifted and gone to their device for good. But (if I'm right) you can keep the codes you've paid for for your own iPads by using Configurator.

    I've kept our two old iTunes accounts for use with our two old iPad 1s. And they're there just in case we need them. Like you, we want to do everything properly and legally with having the right number of app licenses etc.

    So, to sync iBooks, you work through iTunes on your 'Master' computer? I like the sound of that!

  • Elizabeth K (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 2:48pm ()

    I know there's been lots of links and info posted on setting up iPads with Config.  I also came across this pdf, pages 6/7 deal with setting up the master iPad, ie rearranging the dock.  Has visuals for general set-up, might be helpful for some.  http://washoecountyschools.org/docs/iPad_Resources/Setup_iPad_Cart_with_Apple_Configurator.pdf


  • Sonya Van Schaijik (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 4:18pm ()

    Hi everyone,

    At Newmarket School in Auckland we are underway. (Kind-of)


    I have set up a wiki to record our journey.


    I am blogging about my 'learning' too with configurator.

    Everything was going really well, until I went to update the ipads, and ended up rebirthing my trial pad.

    I always do one first before bringing the other ipads onto configurator.

    Tomorrow I am working with Ethan again. He is my mentor and paid guide with configurator.

    I would not be able to decipher it all by myself.

    I have put up a how to PDF for configurator, with pretty pictures. This is to help me for when Ethan is not beside me holding my hand.





  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 17 Mar 2013 7:01pm ()

    Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences and some very useful documents that I have filed away. It's interesting that we're all finding this tricky, and it's good to be able to share the fish-hooks and the solutions.

  • Sonya Van Schaijik (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 12:07pm ()

    Hi there,

    Update with where we are up to Newmarket.

    Configurator can be set up if you want syndicates to do their own updates.

    eg: have a dual itunes account.

    This all comes under the supervise settings.

    I will create an update of our journey on how to update apps and systems when required.

    At this stage we will continue to use configurator.

    Configurator gets easier as we work with it. 


    Here are useful links I have found about configurator.

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 4:49pm ()

    That's interesting about the dual iTunes accounts when using Configurator. I was under the impression that you had to use a single iTunes account? Thanks for sharing the journey!

  • Innes Kennard (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 5:31pm ()

    Hi Carol

    Just to add to the conversation. I hope Sonya will add/correct the following. My understanding is a school has


    ONE iTunes account that is used by the Programme Manager (using Apple’s terms here) to manage the VPP programme. I would suggest that this is the only thing that happens on this account. In NZ I believe it needs to be linked to a credit card so you will want to limit access.



    In most NZ primary schools you have ONE iTunes account that is used with/by Apple Configurator (AC) to redeem VPP codes and download free apps. You can use AC to group your iPads in the Prepare/Supervise process.




    You can have syndicates/departments with their own iTunes accounts and their own AC. The  Manager sends out VPP codes to be redeemed as required on each of these  nodes.



    Hard enough for a small group to get heads around AC and the whole process.

    Harder to manage and keep track of VPP.

    Needs multiple computers running AC and multiple iTunes accounts – opportunity for confusion especially over passwords



    Spreads the load when needing to update.

    Downloaded apps would tend to be more area specific.


    I think you would have to have a good reason for having it decentralised especially at the start. If you did want to do this later as numbers increased you  can de-authorise VPP codes from the central account and then redeem them on the others (I think!)

  • Sonya Van Schaijik (View all users posts) 18 Mar 2013 9:20pm ()

    Innes, we are now at the stage we can explore configurator more. Yes you are correct with one configurator  account And another separate configurator iTunes account. However within the system, as administrator I can loosen the updates so that someone else can update the apps and the system but without interfering with the main account. Our initial frustration is the apps that need updating, so am I expected to call in all iPads to update or can this be done in class. The answer is yes. However, I have not tested this yet. That is my next step. Again I worked with our technical team and this is something I could not have done on my own. We are well on our way and I am feeling confident with Configurator. I am grateful too for my principal's support and understanding that our setting up would be a financial and time commitment. 

  • David Rankin (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 7:08pm ()

    I have been following these threads for weeks and weeks now and it has been really useful background info and learning.

    Today I decided to use Meraki to deploy apps for my 30 plus ipads. What a great decision. Set up the iPads and Tela laptops. Configuration was simple and the interface easy to follow. Best of all it is all cloud based so I can manage the iPads and network from anywhere.

    Stephen from Meraki rang me within 30 minutes of beginning the configuration processs and then I had a 30 minute webinar with him discussing our requirements and how Meraki could help and organising a free trial of some of their hardware - switches and access points.

    If you are still undecided on how to proceed I would suggest at least looking into Meraki.

  • Sonya Van Schaijik (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 7:46pm ()

    Hi David,

    I have been observing Meraki with interest. Question: you spoke about a free trial of some of their hardware- switches and access points. Does this mean that Meraki could end up charging for the service?

  • David Rankin (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2013 6:50am ()

    Hi Sonya

    The deal with the fee trial of switches etc is that if we decide not to keep the access point we return it at our cost. The network configuration side will remain free.

  • Andy Parker (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 8:08pm ()

    Hi David - did you have to use separate AppleIDs on each iPad, or could you use the same AppleID for each? We've used the Casper Suite for pushing out apps and the niggly bit was having to accept the redemption of the VPP code on each iPad for each App.

  • David Rankin (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2013 6:55am ()

    All iPads are linked to the one Apple ID and are simply given an individual name.

  • Helen King (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 7:19pm ()

    Hi David, that sounds gret re Meraki. Does it really work over any network or only using Meraki wifi systems?

  • David Rankin (View all users posts) 20 Mar 2013 6:53am ()

    Hi Helen

    Meraki will work with existing networks and with multi platform devises.

  • Warren Grieve (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 8:13pm ()

    We are using the Meraki hardware (switches and and wifi). They are great to give simple managed information throughout the network and to allow improvements in our deployments. I have used the Meraki to deply apps and it is easy. The catch for me is gone free Apps that go back to paid and is hard to work these through ny of the volume purchase systems.

  • Warren Grieve (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 8:13pm ()

    We are using the Meraki hardware (switches and and wifi). They are great to give simple managed information throughout the network and to allow improvements in our deployments. I have used the Meraki to deply apps and it is easy. The catch for me is gone free Apps that go back to paid and is hard to work these through ny of the volume purchase systems.

  • Carol Kendall (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 11:00pm ()

    Regarding free Apps that return to being paid ones, my understanding is that (with Configurator) if you download a free app in iTunes, you need to get it straight into Configurator while it is still free. It's no good having it in iTunes and not taking that next step. Maybe the issue is similar with Meraki.

  • Matthew Thomas (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 8:34pm ()

    Hey all -

    Wow, this is a really interesting thread, it's great to see different perspectives on how to make iPad Deployment work in schools.  We run the Apple Server Profile Manager MDM solution at school which helps to lessen the headaches of deployment (but only lessen them a wee bit!)  But I would never dream of setting up Profile Manager myself (even with some reasonable technical know how).

    So if Meraki can be installed by someone at school with help over the phone with the Meraki people, then that is awesome!  While the Meraki MDM solution is currently free, it has just been purchased by Cisco for a large sum of money, so it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

    This whole thread reminds me of a quote from Fraser Speirs I saw on Twitter -->

    "The complexity of a non-1:1 iPad deployment is easily an order of magnitude greater than a 1:1 iPad deployment."

    Unfortunately many of the schools we still see coming through to visit or who make contact don't realise what a mission this is to get right.  Hopefully Apple will keep working on Configurator and / or other tools to make iOS devices easier to deploy as well as easy to learn with iPads.

  • grahamp (View all users posts) 19 Mar 2013 9:23pm ()


    Meraki is owned by Cisco.  A need for most iPad classroom installations is around wireless access to Apple TV to enable wireless access fro iPad to your projectors of TV panels.  The way this is done seamlessly on a network is vai the Apple protocol Bonjour.  Do confirm that your wireless network supports this protocol (and the cost to do so) or you may find future Apple technologies may not be supported.

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