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Apple Education informed customers of the new program on its mailing list this week. It allows qualified institutions to purchase apps for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch in volume, and then distribute that software to users.
The new program allows educational institutions to purchase multiple copies of the same application at once, and it also gives developers the opportunity to discount software when purchased in bulk.
The new offering from Apple comes after some schools have started to require that students who enroll own an iPhone or iPod touch. Even Apple's recently launched iPad has also found success in higher education as a learning tool.
Institutions can now buy mobile applications by purchasing a "Volume Voucher" from the Apple Store for Education. The vouchers can be bought in denominations ranging from $100 to $10,000. The program will also allow purchase orders and other payment options, and will recognize the tax status of the institution and bill accordingly.
Once the volume vouchers are received, they can be given to the Program Facilitator, a new account type that allows individuals — such as a dean, a professor, a school principal or a teacher — to redeem vouchers through the program.
Purchasing software through the App Store Volume Purchase Program will result in the facilitator being sent an e-mail with app-specific codes, one code per license. End-users, such as students or faculty with an iOS device, can then redeem the codes in the same manner in which users redeem a gift card on the App Store.
The Volume Purchase Program also includes an optional, separate agreement that allows institutions to use one or more iTunes accounts to sync multiple iOS devices. Using this, an institution can set up devices with generic iTunes accounts and control what apps are available on a device.
More information on Apple's new Volume Purchase Program for the App Store is available in a list of frequently asked questions on the official site.