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Apple in education: A love story

Posted in: Jamf Pro, K-12 Education

Apple sets the bar when it comes to offering a transformational learning experience. With a fleet of available devices that can go from power on to accessing 200,000 education and reference apps in minutes, the learning possibilities are endless for schools leveraging Mac, iPad and Apple TV devices.

For schools looking to join the Apple in the classroom movement, there are a few details to consider when deploying devices, including ways to ensure they will be used responsibly and foster a strong, collaborative learning environment.

iPad as a learning tool

Dating back to the 1980s when Apple donated over 9,000 Apple II computers to California schools through their “Kid’s Can’t Wait” program, Apple has kept its feet firmly planted in the education space. For many, the Apple II was a student’s first exposure to computers in general!

In the past, rows of computers lined up against walls and filled computer labs for students to use during their “computer” time. Today, instead of large computer labs full of terminals, some of the most progressive schools are looking into soft seating inside classrooms, open learning spaces, and a much more fluid experience in general. This couldn’t happen without the amazing capabilities of the modern iPad. Incredibly sharp and color rich screens bring creative programs to life. A powerful processor can bring math and engineering lessons to life with 3D (and now even augmented reality) imagery which was never accessible in a mobile device before. We’ve come a long way.

Apple School Manager

One of the most important programs Apple offers schools is Apple School Manager. Apple School Manager is a free program for educational institutions and gives them:

  • The ability to assign institutionally owned devices to the right mobile device management (MDM) server (formerly known as the Device Enrollment Program or DEP)
  • The ability to procure licenses for apps and books and distribute them accordingly (formerly known as the Volume Purchase Program or VPP)
  • The ability to assign specific users roles within Apple School Manager
    • Example: A staff member can be made a “Content Manager” and the only access they’ll have in Apple School Manager is the ability to procure app licenses
  • Create Managed Apple IDs
  • Connect with your student information system (SIS)

Apple Classroom

The Classroom app is one of my favorite enhancements to Apple’s education offerings. The Classroom app gives teachers the ability to manage their classroom devices, without extensive training (or fear). With just a few taps, a teacher can guide students into applications, lock them there if desired, navigate students to webpages or even specific chapters in iBooks. A teacher has the ability to view a students screen from his or her iPad. The student will see the blue AirPlay banner to know when this is happening — balancing teacher needs with student privacy. All class and roster information can be pulled from Apple School Manager or loaded into Jamf Pro. It’s a really great way to make sure iPads are being used as intended. Go here for more information: apple.com/education/teaching-tools/.

Shared iPads

Historically, iPads were single user devices. There was no login or logout. In today’s world, Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs allow iPads to be used by multiple students throughout the day. Similar to a computer, they can log in to their own personalized environment and be confident their apps and content stay in tact. There’s no longer a need to sync documents to third-party services like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Apple Schoolwork

The Schoolwork app helps teachers and students more effectively use the creative power of iPad. Teachers can easily distribute and collect assignments, keep an eye on student progress in educational apps, and collaborate one on one with students from anywhere — all in real time. It’s easy for students to use, too. Assignments can now go beyond traditional materials like photos and documents to incorporate files, websites and specific content within Schoolwork compatible apps. Assignments automatically appear on a student’s iPad, organized by due date and class. And Schoolwork helps teachers keep track of how everyone in class is doing — so they can tailor teaching to the needs of each student.

This feels like a more modern version of iTunes U without the public facing class options. Schoolwork has an extreme focus on apps that support ClassKit, which enables the real-time tracking of student progress from all sorts of various sources. If you’re familiar with how the TV app aggregates all your different media sources — even though they’re in different apps — and displays your progress in one central place, this is similar to that model.

These features were part of a recent release from Apple, so it may take some time for IT, teachers, and students to adopt and evolve their day-to-day usage of iPad devices. Fortunately, Apple has some great product documentation, as well as a knack for working directly with schools to make sure their Apple initiatives are successful.

Powerful third-party apps

With the incredible popularity of Apple in education and learning, there’s now a full ecosystem of apps and services schools can take advantage of. An iPad alone can be a powerful tool, but when used to leverage apps that challenge students in new ways and give teachers tools for better visibility into student comprehension and progress, iPad programs become a portal to better student and teacher engagement. Here are a few third-party apps you may benefit from:

Kahoot - jamf.it/Kahoot
Kahoot! is a fun, game-based learning platform. It’s easy to create learning called ‘kahoots’. Their format allows you to add videos, images and diagrams to your questions to amplify student engagement and make formative assessments fun. Live games are displayed on a shared screen to unite lessons with greater class participation. With the challenge feature and their mobile app, you can even assign ‘kahoots’ as homework.

Tynker - jamf.it/tynker
If you’ve seen our other webinars or have looked at some of Apple’s suggested coding curriculum, you will recognize Tynker. They are a learning platform that teaches programming and has curriculum for kindergarten through 8th grade students. Students engage in thoughtful activities like designing games, building apps, flying drones and projects that help bring coding to life. Recent updates have introduced elements of Minecraft and augmented reality.

Quizlet - jamf.it/quizlet
It’s generally well known that flashcards are some of the best ways to help commit topics to memory and are helpful in almost any subject, but are most well known for science, foreign language and history. Quizlet takes the flashcard experience that we all grew up with and makes them digital, which makes them all the more effective.

Students and teachers create their own sets of terms and definitions, and from there, can use them in several different modes. Traditional flashcards allow users to tap and flip the card over to see the answer. Beyond that, there are modes for multiple answer tests, written tests, matching games and much more.

GeoGebra AR - jamf.it/GeoGebra
GeoGebra AR projects 3D graphs of multi-variable functions and planes. It literally brings an abstract concept to the real world and I was so impressed when I tried it out. GeoGebra AR is free for non-commercial use and you can find out more about them at the link above.

To learn more about the infinite possibilities of Apple in education, and a more visual depiction of the concepts listed above, watch our recent webinar: Apple Education Technology for Beginners.

For any questions, please contact us and we’d be happy to assist with your iPad rollouts.

If you’re not already a Jamf customer, take our flagship product, Jamf Pro, for a free test drive and start getting more out of your technology today.