‘App Budgets’ Might Just Be the Tip of the Iceberg

By November 1, 2012October 13th, 2017No Comments

This is the second post in a six-part series.

I was taking notes at one of our focus groups at ISTE in San Diego this past June when I heard one of the participants, a tech specialist, use a phrase that sounded out of place but immediately made perfect sense.

She referenced buying instructional materials from her “apps budget.” Not a software budget or some sort of discretionary capital fund, but an apps budget to support the multiple iPads her district had just acquired.

The other focus group participants and observers in the room all turned to look directly at her. It was like the first time someone said the word “Internet” in an educational context in the early 90’s. She was flooded with questions from her fellow focus group participants, and everyone wanted to know the nuts and bolts.

Signal of times to come?

Her answer was fairly simple – apps had become part of the curriculum. Many apps have to be purchased or installed per device, rather than being covered as part of a site license, which changed the way her district was budgeting.

To the group, this was a harbinger, not only of change in educational fiscal policy, but also of the need to shift our thinking about these tools we are quickly adopting for our classrooms.

Apps used on mobile devices do not follow the old funding model we’ve been using for software for 30 years. For one, they are a lot less expensive than software licenses. Most apps cost 99 cents, some educational apps a bit more. Apple has even made it possible for developers to offer their apps at a discount of 50 percent for educational institutions.

Educators can outfit an entire iPad lab with an app for the cost of a single conventional software application. Of course you would need a separate budget if only to show the powers-that-be the cost per unit of the devices.

Device administration requires flexibility

But the cost savings is not the only difference from the old model.

For one, it’s not currently possible to purchase 25 copies of an app at once. They need to be purchased separately. That means 25 separate clicks at the App Store.

Your app budget might be smaller than the typical software budget, but your time budget might be larger.

If you have an app budget, or are thinking of starting a separate line item for app purchases, we’d love to hear from you. Meanwhile, the next post in this series will focus on one of the by-products of the apps budget phenomenon, changes to the standard school buying cycle.

Other posts in the series: