With so many tech options out there, what factors play into the decision to deploy iPads to teachers and students? The answer goes beyond sleek hardware and a popular brand name. In the past decade, Apple has invested in innovative software and apps that are designed to meet the needs of schools, so it’s no surprise that iPads are increasingly popular in the classroom.
A BIG SPLASH OR A BIG FLOP?
When it was released in 2010, the iPad seemed like a no-brainer for K-12 schools. But at a price point of $499, widespread deployment was a challenge. Sure, they were cheaper than a Mac laptop, but schools could nab a PC for a similar price tag. Before long, Chromebooks, along with programs like Gmail and Google Docs, began to dominate the educational market.
Despite initial stumbles, the value of iPads in classrooms remained obvious. A study conducted in 2017 found that literacy and numeracy skills improved with iPad use, and students found that using apps felt more like play, increasing their desire to study.
MAKING THE GRADE
In recent years, Apple has made major strides in making the iPad a classroom essential. In 2018, Apple revealed its plan to revitalize its educational offerings. New models are less expensive – especially with an educational discount – and much more powerful. Plus, updated apps enhance classroom and schoolwork management. iPads have certainly come a long way from critics deriding them as “big iPhones.”
“At Apple we care deeply about education because we love kids and we love teachers….We know our products can help bring out the creative genius in every kid.” –Apple CEO Tim Cook, 2018
The iPad’s touch screen offers some serious advantages over a traditional laptop. Studies have shown that children with motor skills issues fare better with the touchscreen, as it streamlines the process and takes a keyboard, mouse, and separate screen out of the equation.
For more detailed work, especially drawing and designing, the Apple Pencil ups the game considerably. Additionally, the iPad also has a solid front and rear camera, so students and teachers can seamlessly record videos or take pictures.
CONNECTING NEAR AND FAR
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed schooling dramatically. Without the closeness of the classroom, teachers face the challenge of keeping track of every student and their progress. So how exactly does the iPad make classroom management and learning easier? The process starts with Apple School Manager, where Apple IDs are created for teachers and students. Once that’s set, teachers can get to work building their classes in Apple’s multifunctional app, Schoolwork.
Schoolwork 2.0 has been seriously upgraded, offering much more functionality. Using the app, teachers can assign “handouts” which include web links, PDFs, documents, and links to activities in apps. Handouts can function as announcements, reminders, or assignments. Teachers set a due date and attach a variety of files, so students have all the information they need at their fingertips. Schoolwork also integrates with Apple’s suite of productivity tools, including PAGES, NUMBERS and KEYNOTE, which all come free with the iPad’s iOS. Teachers can check on progress to see if specific students need extra help or to monitor the assigned workload, based on how long it took the class to complete an assignment.
Once things return to normal, teachers can make use of another great Apple app, CLASSROOM. With this app, teachers can launch the same app on every student iPad or check what students are doing on their devices. Additional functionality makes it easy to share iPads among several students or display their screen on AppleTV.
Beyond the standard reading, writing and arithmetic, iPads can make assignments much more creative. Apple’s coding app trains kids for the future workforce, and apps like CLIPS (a simple but powerful video editing tool) help them easily make multimedia video presentations. In their quest for a bigger share of the K-12 market, Apple has been responsive to teacher suggestions and requests when building and upgrading their educational apps.
iPads have become more affordable for school districts, but they’re not exactly a throwaway expense! Choosing the right case protects your district’s considerable investment, and it’s important to know what’s out there. Gumdrop cases are designed for students and schools, so devices last longer, need fewer repairs and keep students connected.
WHAT’S RIGHT FOR YOUR SCHOOL?
While just a few years ago, Chromebooks might have been the obvious choice for most EdTech buyers, access to Apple’s educational and productivity apps gives the iPad a serious edge. Ultimately, deciding on the right tech – and tech protection – for your teachers and students depends on your curriculum, budget and goals. Fully understanding your district and school’s educational and deployment needs will greatly inform your purchasing choices.
Want more information about the best protection for iPads? Check out Gumdrop’s line of cases for the newest iPads and devices.