By Jacob Kersh
As school systems within our country continue to modernize, technology has become an increasingly important actor for cultivating a proper learning environment. Nevertheless, in order for schools to incorporate electronics as efficiently as possible, there are two primary obstacles they have to hurdle: gathering the proper funding to purchase cutting-edge technology and assisting students with the learning curve that comes with it.
However, on March 27, Apple held a keynote where they aimed to tackle both these problems. Based on the positive response they have received, it looks like they will be changing the game when it comes to electronics in education for years to come.
To begin the event, Apple released an affordable new iPad built specifically for the classroom. The device houses a new A10 Fusion Chip, which will allow it to run 50% faster and also help it process more complex software programs that the previous model was unable to handle. This inclusion will allow it to be a much more versatile product for schools to use, which tremendously widens its appeal. It also supports Apple Pencil, which resembles a classic writing tool, but is actually an extremely intelligent electronic stylus that will allow students to have an astonishing selection of different ways to use the device. The stylus is also incredibly easy to operate because it functions very similarly to a normal pencil. From writing a complex document, to designing a building onsite, or retouching layers in a photo, the powerful tool offers unmatched adaptability. According to Glenelg Junior and technology enthusiast Hassan Malik, the Pencil coupled with the new iPad “will become both the most affordable and effective technology combination for schools in the next few years.” Malik is likely right in his assumptions, as schools looking to modernize their archaic technologies to provide a better environment for their students will undoubtedly be considering Apple’s new and improved ecosystem.
In addition to these hardware refreshes is the release of Apple’s new education software, ClassKit. The new educational framework gives both students and teachers a digital space to assign, complete, and review assignments. It is cloud based, so it lets teachers assign work to students and see each student's progress while they complete everything. Teachers can even grade these assignments directly in the app, which makes management much easier than collecting papers individually from every student. It also focuses on real-time interaction between students and teachers in a classroom during each lesson; teachers can use the app to control what students see on their devices, and they also have the ability to check in on what all students are using their iPads for at any given time. Finally, the primary feature of this app that Apple showed off was “Shared iPad”, which makes it easy for students to use the same iPad with their own profiles. All a student has to do is tap on their profile photo on another student’s iPad to instantly log in and immediately work within their own. Essentially, Apple has made the possibility of using technology to facilitate endless student interactions.
The new iPad and Apple Pencil will both be available for purchase by school systems in the Apple store soon. Glenelg Junior Rushi Patel says he is “excited to see the direction [Apple’s] education plan goes in,” and he is not alone, as various schools throughout the nation are eager to implement the new technology into their learning environments. However, only time will tell if the company’s innovative vision will be successful.