Apple is putting more tools in the hands of educators today with the official launch of the new Classroom app for iPad that promises to opens up new, more engaging ways of teaching and learning on the iPad.
The new app is part of the new iOS 9.3 education features Apple has added that allow teachers to manage student devices, share work and assignments, as well as track students’ progress to help them stay on track.
Gearing up for the school year, Apple has just launched a newly redesigned “Apple and Education” page on its website, featuring a simplified design and fresh categories showing how iPhones, iPads and Macs can make a difference in the classroom.
During its education event in January, Apple unveiled its plans to revolutionize the K-12 classroom with the iPad, electronic textbooks, a revamped version of iTunes U that supports content for K-12 schools as well as higher education, and tools for educators to create their own digital content using iBooks Author and iTunes U.
In the intervening months, schools and districts around the country have made significant investments in iPads, including the San Diego Unified School District, which invested $15 million in 26,000 iPads for its students. Those sales created a record quarter for Apple in the K-12 education market.
With the back to school season upon us, it’s clear that the massive iPad deployments will give Apple the opportunity to disrupt the classroom in the ways it has whole industries and, in many ways, that’s a good thing.
One of the ways that working in education is different from almost any other industries is the annual summer break. The summer break let’s schools and districts tackle large projects in ways that simply aren’t possible in other fields. Deploying a brand-new network, building an expansion, and taking part in professional development programs are just a few examples.
With the end of the school year, Apple is taking the opportunity to remind schools and educators about a free professional development program that it’s offering. Called the Tune In Series, the program is a series of webcast events covering the iPad and many of the technologies that Apple introduced during its education event in January. The series is running every week through the end of August.
Technology in the education sector, particularly for K-12 schools, often poses unique challenges not seen in business or enterprise organizations. The iPad is a great example. As we noted yesterday, BYOD is generally not a good idea for school environments. That means effective iPad deployments are typically managed by schools and education IT staff.
There are plenty of stories out there about schools moving forward with one-to-one iPad deployments (we’ve run two this week – one about the massive iPad investment by San Diego’s school district and one on East Alton’s decision to lease iPads instead of buying them). One-to-one initiatives, in which each student gets his or her own device for use in class and at home, are generally considered a much more effective and ideal model than when students sharing devices during to school hours.
One-to-one programs, which were first established for laptops, can be challenging because such programs need to take into consideration that the iPads will be used at home. One area where this creates problems for schools is the need to comply with filtering regulations.
With its e-textbook initiative, iTunes U, and a range of educational resources, Apple is pitching the iPad as critical element in 21st century schools. Many schools have already begun iPad tests or full-scale deployments. In other schools, however, there’s still a fight over where and how the iPad and other technologies fit into the classroom. A battle erupted between teachers and lawmakers in Idaho earlier this year over new technology requirements in the state’s schools.
So what makes some schools embrace iPads and other new technologies while others resist them? It turns out that the answer may lie in the personal technology preferences of school and district administrators.
Titles like Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, and Jetpack Joyride have proven that popular smartphone games are big business for developers. But why are we so addicted to gaming on our mobile devices? Well, according to a new survey from MocoSpace, a third of us do it just to kill time and cure boredom, while 10% of us do it to meet new people.
AirPlay also turns that Apple TV into powerful and extremely portable presentation system that’s a great fit for the classroom or the board room. The only challenge is that the Apple TV’s only output option is an HDMI port, which can be a big problem for connecting to older display technologies including many projectors and computer displays – a problem solved by cable and adapter maker Kanex.
Virtually everyone who’s ever used an Apple product has an Apple ID. This user account for all things Apple is most commonly used with the iTunes Store and the iOS and Mac App Stores. It’s used to both authorize purchases and to allow you to access content or run apps after they’re downloaded. Apple’s philosophy is that every person should have their own Apple ID and that each of us should use our individual Apple ID (and only that Apple ID) on each of our devices – iPads, iPhones, iPods, Macs, even PC’s running iTunes or other Apple software.
That’s a great concept, but it creates a big challenge when iOS devices are used in business or school environments. When someone configures an iOS device for an employee or student with a selection of apps and other content (like iBooks 2 textbooks), they need to use an Apple ID. But once that device is deployed, the end user may need or want to purchase additional apps or other materials.
This is often a stumbling block for business-owned devices. And it’s something that Apple has finally begun to address with Apple Configurator.
Unlike most computers, the iPad isn’t designed to be a multi-user device. iOS doesn’t support multiple user accounts or profiles – that essentially means one set of device and application settings along with a personal collection of information like notes, email, browser bookmarks, and stored passwords for different online services. Sharing a device with that much personal data makes it easy for someone to snoop while using another person’s iPhone or iPad or on an iPad that is commonly shared between multiple users.
Passtouch is a web browser for the iPad that’s designed to offer at least some multi-user capabilities as well as to secure web-based information like bookmarks, cookies, and stored passwords. It doesn’t offer whole-device accounts or profiles but it does offer some extra security for devices that are regularly shared.