An EdTech manager’s view of Apple’s education event

From Bradley Chambers’ Making the grade: Why Apple’s education strategy is not based on reality:

I love Apple, but the company is only a small part of my school’s technology stack in practice… Teaching is a hard job. Apple even had a video where students talked about how hard their teacher’s job was. Being a teacher can be a thankless job. Teachers put in a lot of hours outside the classroom for a salary that is less than they deserve. I’m not sure the average teacher is getting excited about another new app to learn (and then explain to students).

Apple’s problems in education actually have less to do with the iPad being $299 or $259. They have a lot more to do with the story that they are framing in education being considered a pipe dream for a lot of the education market.

Education didn’t need a faster iPad. Education didn’t need Apple Pencil support. Those are great features for a consumer-friendly iPad, but education needed a clearer signal from Apple that they understand how school districts actually operate around the country and around the globe.

At the end of the day, students still have to pass standardized tests. They still have to meet all of their mandated requirements. I’m not sure an iPad with Apple Pencil support and some new GarageBand sound packs are really going to make that big of a difference as fun as they may be.

Chambers covers Apple in education for 9to5Mac. In his day job he manages 160 iPads and 75 Macs running G-Suite for the Brainerd (Tenn.) Baptist School.

My take: I take my cue here from former Apple education evangelist (and friend-of-the-blog) Richard Wanderman, who says this is the best piece on Apple in education he’s read yet.


  1. Richard Wanderman said:
    Thanks for the kind word PED.

    I think his commentary holds true for almost all of Apple’s pushes into K12 education. Apple makes personal computers and devices, education wants devices that are aimed at institutional integration.

    PC clones weren’t any better integrated than Macs, but they were cheaper. Chromebooks and google’s cloud-based apps are better integrated and cheaper.

    For a while schools were buying high end content management systems that ran on PCs from companies that are now forgotten. This was big money and all of these systems failed. Once cloud based applications became real it was just a matter of time before someone made a dumb terminal (chromebook) to run them. For school use, this latest model seems to be working best.

    When Apple sets its sites on personal computing they win every time. Kids using chromebooks in school will eventually go to college and work. We can catch them then.

    My granddaughter uses a chromebook for school but a MacBook Air and iPhone outside of school. I have little doubt that the MacBook Air, or some future Apple laptop will go with her to college. The chromebook will be left at her high school.

    March 28, 2018
  2. John Konopka said:
    I was thinking similar thoughts. When my kids were in school I learned that the day is tightly scripted. There’s little time for the kind of exploration Apple showcases in these videos. The IPad and Pencil are great tools for students, but they are not sufficient. 200,000 education apps is great but teachers don’t have time to sift through these to build a curriculum. Apple needs to solve the problem of the “last mile” and work together with vendors and schools to put together complete curricula that schools can choose to adapt to their districts.

    The “Gravity” video was a little silly. Gravity for poets. Some things were good. The AR content was great. The virtual frog was awesome.

    March 28, 2018
  3. Gianfranco Pedron said:
    “… Apples Education Strategy Is Not Based On Reality”

    Sorry, but Apple doesn’t do “reality”. Reality was flip phones, diskman, desktop computers, electronic Rolodexes, still cameras, video cameras and the list goes on. Reality is deeply discounted because, well, just about anybody can serve it up in different flavours.

    I don’t think Apple’s goal is to churn out hardware just for the sake of doing so, while supporting a “reality” in education which I think many many can agree is mediocre. If Apple simply succeeds in replacing books, pencils and paper with their electronic equivalents then I’m sure Time Cook will feel he has failed, no matter how much is added to the bottom line.

    I know this is idyllic but I believe Apple’s goal is to transform education, make it enjoyable for everyone rather than tweaking the present educational system to fit onto some newfangled technology provided by the lowest bidder. Unfortunately, the former requires creative minds and courageous souls while the latter appeals to the bean counters who run the show.

    I don’t believe Apple should be in the business of developing curriculum. Its core strength is hardware and software and its ability to move the goalposts in whatever market it chooses to address. Apple’s job is to sell a glimpse of the transformative possibilities offered by its ecosystem to a seemingly jaded and burnt out audience.

    That’s no easy feat.

    March 28, 2018
    • Richard Wanderman said:
      That’s an excellent comment and I agree with almost all of it.

      Apple ought not compete in this lowest bidder, stupid pork belly field of K12 ed-tech. The tools Apple makes are for individual creativity, not rote drill and kill. Leave the drill and kill to the chromebooks and sell iPads to individuals, not to school systems.

      I’m all for educational reform but dropping iPads into classrooms isn’t gonna swing it. It takes a sea change in attitude up and down the teaching hierarchy and that kind of thing takes generations.

      March 28, 2018

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