Tomorrow, Apple will host a media event that is expected to focus on the release of an updated, yet smaller iPhone line, rumored to be called the iPhone SE, and a smaller version of the recently released iPad Pro. While both of these releases are certain to cause a buzz in the mainstream tech media, they would have little impact on the education market. iPhones traditionally are not part of the classroom purchases made be schools and the iPad Pro, especially in its very large 13″ form factor, has had little adoption in education. While a smaller iPad Pro might bring the price point down to affordability for some schools, the iPad Pro line is still that, primarily a pro device. The benefits of the Apple Pencil for drawing would be of particular use only in a few education niches and likely will have only a small impact.
However, there is an outside change that the Apple software team will spend a little time during the announcement to cover in a bit more detail some of the interesting education features of the previously announced iOS 9.3. Released as a beta several weeks ago, 9.3 includes some much needed features exclusive to education and hopefully these will be more fully addressed tomorrow.
Two features really stand out. First, Apple is releasing a new Classroom app that will allow teachers to see what each student is doing by viewing their screen. Additionally, teachers will be able to launch apps and lock the devices into that app remotely. Could this rival Nearpod and other similar apps? We will have to wait and see, but it is always interesting to see how Apple incorporates new features directly into the software.
The second highly anticipated features relate more to device management. Apple has long provided a device management system known as Apple Configurator but its limits quickly became obvious and third party Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions quickly overtook it, but they are limited by what Apple allows. Now Apple is introducing Apple School Manager, a one-stop device and course deployment system.. ASM allows admins to management Apple logins, deploy iPads, install apps and even build courses all from one system. This app alone to end the hassle of iPad deployments for technology administrators and could further spread iPads into schools.
I’ll be watching the Live Feed and will post a complete wrap up of all of the education related news tomorrow!