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In-house 'app stores' ease tablet-management woes

Bob Violino | April 13, 2011
Although this level of control isn't for everyone, it does help keep a lid on chaos and support woes.

"We are currently open to empowering employees to manage public apps responsibly with the expectation they will identify and use public apps that add value to their role," VanOsch says. He plans to monitor the tablet software approach over the next six to 12 months to gauge the value and impact on device use and performance.


A mixed model

Other organizations are allowing individuals to select from a range of publicly available applications -- with some controls -- rather than creating an in-house app store.

The Morris School District in Morristown, N.J., began deploying iPads among high schools and middle schools about a year and a half ago and is using about 200 of the devices, with plans to increase the number considerably in the coming months.

Students and teachers use the devices to download content such as electronic textbooks, and for subject-related applications such as astronomy software for science classes.

The iPads are owned and maintained by the district, and all tablet applications must be approved by the IT department or by "content supervisors" within each school building, says Tim McDade, director of technology for the district. Anyone is free to suggest applications that have educational value.

Organizations are very much still struggling with how to go about deciding what apps to mobilize and how they're going to support all this stuff.
Philippe Winthrop, managing director, Enterprise Mobility Foundation

The district issues a purchase order to Apple Education to buy what are called Voucher Cards, which come in denominations of $100, $500 and $1,000. Teachers are issued cards that can be used to purchase approved apps for however many devices they need. The teacher physically downloads the app to a "primary" computer in his homeroom, from which he can load the app onto the designated number of iPads, using codes he received with the purchase. Apps that have been approved can be used anywhere in the district.

"We don't want to hinder either teachers or students [from using] what's out there; we don't want to put up barriers," McDade says. Allowing people to suggest tablet apps enables the district to keep up with the constantly changing landscape of software, he says. About 100 apps suggested by users are in use, and a great number of them are free.


Giving end users total app freedom

The IT department at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., supports tablets for students, faculty and staff, and the college allows users to load anything they want on the machines, even those owned by the college, as long as they abide by college policies and regulations.


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