Managing App Requests

Developing a process of approval for teachers to request apps (recommended to students/families to download or deployed via an MDM) is important mechanism to support the thoughtful consideration as to how technology may be authentically embedded into learning tasks and classroom practice.

Utilising a simple online form, we ask our teachers a series of questions including outlining a brief description of anticipated use and educational value, checkbox selection of ACARA ICT General Capability key idea/s reflected in the use of the app and whether the app require students (or staff) to create an account or login. This not only supports the Learning Technologies and IT teams’ evaluation, the prompts are intended to build the capacity of staff to curate and consider themes such as pedagogical purpose, data privacy and perhaps existing functionality within already installed native Apple (or third-party) apps.

A useful resource I've also adapted and frequently refer to is the New technologies risk-assessment tool published within the Australian eSafety Toolkit for Schools.

Q: What are some of the ways you manage app requests in your schools to support purposeful (and safe) use?

8 replies

September 19, 2022

This sounds great. Are you able to share a copy of the form?

We do similar. Have a short form with:

  1. The schools visions and a tick box yes/no if the app supports it
  2. Question if the app is stimulating, creation or passion

September 20, 2022

Jamf School has the ability for teachers to request app direct from the App Store. Which is pretty nifty!

September 24, 2022

Thanks, Tim - I'll have to check that out. Utilised JAMF extensively across K-12 in my previous setting, however, currently exploring whether we continue with JAMF / Intune combination (given our K-6 iPad, Y7-9 Surface and Y10-12 BYOD environment) or unify MDM within Intune. There's definitely Pros and Cons re: features and user-experience.

October 10, 2022

I would be cautious about unifying with inTune. I have a lot of ADEs in chat groups with districts that have done this and have lost significant functionality that has, in their opinion, ruined the experience.

October 11, 2022

We use a Google Form (though past MDMs have also offered a request tool, we have never used it). It is a branching form that we use for sites/apps/books. As for purposeful use, we don't really ask many questions along those lines and leave that for the teachers to determine. That said, we wouldn't push out a presentation app when we already have those deployed (Keynote/Google Slides).

We have Macs (high school) and iPads (lower and middle schools) in use so the questions vary a bit just based on end user age. The data from this form is quite useful in tracking apps requested across campus, and whether or not it was approved.

October 14, 2022

In a similar way to others, we use a Google Form along with the AutoCrat extension to dynamically route the request to different review teams based on the building from which the request originates. This allows our tech folks to review the app for compatibility, student data privacy requirements and VPP assignment while also ensuring the tech coach in the building can review for curricular connections and see if an existing tool can perform the same objectives.

October 18, 2022

As long the app is free, we trust the teacher to make the decision on what is best for their students. If it is a paid app, we generally purchase one or two for them to pilot with students to see how effective the app is for them. Most of the time, they decide this is not the app they want. However, if they decide that this app is going to make a difference, then they write up a justification for the principal's approval. We feel that it is the teachers that know their students and the needs of their students best, so whatever it takes.

In the last 7 years, we have only spent about $800 in the Apple App Store, and a good portion of that were ebooks.

November 06, 2022

We've found ourselves spending a lot less in the App Store as well, but this is as much related to the changing model of what make for profitable Apps in the App Store, as much as requests from teachers.

The vast majority of new apps, to be profitable, require to be either a subscription model outside of the App Store, or to use In-App Purchases, which don't work through Apple School Manager.

For example, in the time I've been managing our fleet - Apps like Explain Everything and Book Creator, amongst others that used to be in the Volume Purchase Program program have moved to subscription models and raised the pricing of their original Apps to guide users to the new model.

We also use the ICT General Capabilities as a method of evaluating Apps, but use a request form rather than the built-in tools in JAMF Pro because there's more of a discussion about the nature of the App and deploying it. Also, many more requests are for Web-based apps which says good things about the improvements in Safari, but also a broader conversation and testing to ensure a great iPad experience.

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