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Posts tagged with "education"

iPad Pro in the Classroom

Karan Varindani has a great story about the role of the iPad Pro in his college studies, and how he's been consolidating his textbooks, notes, and more into a portable, digital workflow:

I saved writing about my experience doing Linear Algebra homework for last because it is, by far, my favorite anecdote about the iPad Pro. I usually have the assignment sheet open on my Mac in front of me, the textbook open on my iPad to my left, and sheets of A4 paper scattered everywhere else on my desk. I first go through the assignment, making lots of mistakes along the way, then rewrite everything again neatly on the second run. Next, I scan the 10–15 pages to my Mac, merge them into a single PDF document, and upload them to the course server. The entire process takes about 3–4 hours depending on the number of questions assigned and leaves me with a pulsing wrist every time. Last week, I did the entire assignment on the iPad Pro. I had both Notability and PDF Expert open in Split View; the former was a blank canvas where I wrote down my answers and the latter had both the assignment and textbook open in tabs. I was able to erase mistakes as I made them and I didn’t have to scan anything afterwards, both of which saved me a tremendous amount of time. I uploaded the document in Safari using iCloud Drive when I was done.

Almost immediately after I got the confirmation email, I decided that I wasn’t going to be returning the iPad Pro.

A good primer for those who argue that the iPad is only being used by tech bloggers – with a fair assessment of the Pro's portability trade-offs.


What’s New for iOS Management in iOS 9

Since the early days of iOS, Apple has always made it relatively easy to configure iOS devices to meet the needs of managed deployments in schools, businesses, and other mass-deployment situations. Heck, even the good old iPod Classic had a "museum mode" that could lock down the device to show specific notes on the screen while audio played.

Over the past few years, iOS deployment has become more 'professionalised' – which might be a euphemism for 'complicated'. Honestly, all mass computer deployment is deeply complex when you get down to it. The best systems automate almost everything. iOS deployment, as it has developed in recent years, has tended to keep most of the moving parts close to the surface. These parts have been difficult or impossible to automate and easy to overlook or forget. That would be fine if most of these parts were optional, but they're not.

The main parts of an iOS deployment are a Mobile Device Management server for configuring and tracking your devices, the Volume Purchase Program for bulk-buying apps from the App Store, and the user of the device having an Apple ID.

When Apple launched the Volume Purchase Program, they introduced the ability for administrators to assign apps to users' Apple IDs, rather than to devices. This also introduced the requirement that every device have a single, identifiable user who has a working Apple ID.

This was quite a good idea in the early days of iOS in the enterprise. These were days when users were bringing their own iOS devices to work and businesses had to make apps available to them. It wasn't such a good idea for more centrally-managed deployments where the use of the device was perhaps more task-oriented than user-oriented. Think: supermarket employee who picks up one of twenty available iPads to do stock control. It also wasn't great for schools, where many users didn't have Apple IDs and there were no tools for bulk creation of said accounts.

I would love to tell you that iOS 9 fixes all of these problems. Unfortunately, I can't tell you that. What iOS 9 does is fix one problem while introducing another.

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iOS 9 Goes to School

I have been deploying and teaching with iOS in a 1:1 school for five full years now. A 1:1 school is a school where each student is provided with a computer in some form for their exclusive use. We started with the original iPad in August 2010 and now, five years later, are getting ready to refresh from our current 4th-generation retina iPad to whatever is current next summer.

Over these past five years, we have seen iPad develop from an interesting device with some useful desktop-like apps in the iWork suite to a very powerful platform for student learning and creativity.

I have often said that the iPad hardware matters only insofar as it enables you to have an excellent experience of software. Tablets and smartphones are as close as we can practically get to a pure software experience. This is one of the reasons why iPhone and iPad hardware is firstly so minimalist and secondly hasn't changed much in all the years they have been sold. What matters about the iPad is that it makes the software fast, smooth, and powerful.

We have seen many more changes in iPad software than we have in the hardware. We started with iOS 3.2 – a version before even multitasking arrived on iOS – and we are now looking at iOS 9. So what does iOS 9 bring for education?

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Apple’s 2015 Back to School Promotion

Benjamin Mayo, writing for 9to5Mac:

Apple is today launching its Back to School promotion for 2015. This year, it will give away a free pair of Beats Solo2 headphones with the purchase of an eligible Mac. Customers must either purchase an iMac, MacBook, MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, or Mac Pro with education pricing to qualify, including build-to-order configurations. The Mac mini does not participate in the deal.

Somewhat curious that Apple isn't including iPad purchases in this year's promotion (they have in previous years). An iPad is, in theory, a great device for students and education purposes. However, I wouldn't be surprised to see more of a push next year after new iPads and iOS 9, and the cheapest Mac starts at $899, not $299 like an iPad mini 2. Beats headphones are a pretty good deal.


Apple Releases iTunes U 3.0

Apple has launched a major update to iTunes U for iOS today, bringing features to simplify homework management for students and grading for teachers. Dawn Chmielewski, writing for Re/code:

With this latest version of Apple’s educational software, students will be able to turn in homework from their tablets; these documents will carry a timestamp recording when the student submits term papers, book reports and other work. An integrated grade book will alert teachers when a student’s work is complete and ready for review, or if it’s time to send a reminder.

Interestingly, Apple's updated iTunes U webpage shows a PDF markup feature similar to the one coming in iOS 9. And, “students can hand-in their homework from any Apple creativity app and dozens of third-party apps” – this seems to be based on an extension that communicates with the iTunes U app.

Last, a few notes from Fraser Speirs:


Khan Academy Brings All Courses to iPad App

Khan Academy – a personal favorite of mine when it comes to learning new things for free on the Internet in an engaging way – has brought its full catalog of exercises and videos to the iPad app, updated today.

Nathan Ingraham writes at The Verge:

That all changes today with the introduction of a completely redesigned app for the iPad — now, everything that lives on the site is also available to iPad users. That includes some 150,000 learning exercises, content that product director Matt Wahl said was “where the majority of people spend their time on Khan Academy today.” He also joked that looking at reviews for the current app revealed that adding those learning exercises was something that users really wanted — beyond just the app review, though Wahl says it is overall the most-requested feature for the app.

I've already started watching some Microeconomics videos in the app, and I like how everything is tracked in your profile and synced back to Khan Academy on the web. The app makes perfect sense on the iPad as a learning tool, and I can't wait to start using it regularly. Khan Academy 2.0 is available on the App Store.


Learning and Relearning iOS

In the school where I teach, we are now into our fifth school year using iPad in the classroom. We have students from 5-18 using the device and using it very differently according to their age and educational needs. We have found it to be a substantial addition to the life and work of our school and a major enhancement to the educational process.

Unlike many schools, we don’t focus on “delivering content” with the iPad. We don’t use electronic textbooks and we don’t buy a lot of curriculum materials in the form of apps. Instead, we view the iPad as a tool for creativity in the classroom. We think of apps not as replacements for books but as a new kind of pen, pencil, ruler, paintbrush, camera, music studio, art material, scientific log book, homework diary, writing pad and movie editing suite.

We have used every version of iOS since iOS 3.2 on the original iPad. Many releases have brought substantial improvements in our daily use of the iPad – for example multitasking in iOS 4 or AirPlay Mirroring in iOS 5 on the iPad 2. I think we are on course for the most substantial change to iOS since it shipped on the iPad this year.

iOS 8 brings many deep changes and improvements to the platform that we know and love to use in our school. I want to highlight a few of them, but it’s important to remember that sometimes the biggest wins are in the fixes to the small daily annoyances.

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Apple Launches 2014 Back To School Promotion

Apple has launched its annual Back To School promotion today, giving qualifying education customers extra credit when buying a Mac, iPhone, or iPad. As in previous years, Apple's promotion allows customers to receive $100 of extra credit when purchasing a Mac, and $50 when buying an iPhone or iPad. Apple is giving away Apple Store Gift Cards, which can be used for Apple Store purchases (unlike iTunes gift cards for digital purchases given away in previous years).

The 2014 Back To School promotion runs until September 9 and qualifying customers in the US include "faculty, staff, students, and parents" of any public or private K12 and higher education institution. Apple published a PDF document on its website with further details on eligible customers and products available in the promotion.

For more details on gift cards and educational pricing, you can check out Apple's official page for Back To School 2014. The promotion is live today in the US and international markets including Canada, the UK, and several European countries.