My reading feed was just full of information about the big educational announcement from Apple’s event in Chicago yesterday. These are the sorts of things that get me excited. I like to see what the future will bring.
I’ll admit to being disappointed.
On a personal note, I have a four year old MacBook Pro that I’d like to consider replacing. I did replace the hard drive with an SSD last summer and that has really breathed life into it. I was frustrated that my old hard drive had nothing wrong with it; it turns out the ribbon cable had been the subject of a recall but I never got the notice. Well, at least I now have a hard drive backup. Once you’ve experienced SSD, you never go back. But, there was no announcement about a new Pro. I’m not terribly interested in the high price of a MacBook Air.
My crystal ball was foggy, I’ll admit. I look at the trends towards Chromebooks and lesser priced versions of Window computers and I honestly thought that there would be some form of MacBook-ish device that would have fallen into that price point. And, it needs ports for legacy devices that schools have purchased over the years. Lots of ports. If Samsung, Acer, Asus, Lenovo, etc. could do it, why couldn’t Apple? But they didn’t so I moved on to what they actually did announce.
I was particularly interested in the new, “affordable” iPad. My iPad2 has certainly served me well. So, checking out the Apple Canada Store, the entry level unit comes in at $429. To that, the big deal about the new iPad is the Pencil to go with. It’s priced at $129. You’ll need a case to keep it safe – I remember being excited about my iPad2 in the beginning but I need to have a keyboard to be most productive for everything I do. I remember being with my friend Zoe bemoaning the same thing and the two of us went to BestBuy together and bought a Kensington bluetooth keyboard. Fortunately, it encases the iPad so I didn’t have to buy an additional case to protect against drops. By the time you add it up what this new offering would be, “affordable” takes on a new meaning. Of course, if you’re an educational institution, you do get a bit of a discount. In today’s market place, you can get a pretty respectable Chromebook or Windows computer for that amount of cash. Some units even flip around so that you have both a laptop and a tablet.
Another thing that sounded exciting was Everyone Can Create. That seems to me to be right up Apple’s alley. The selling point for Apple products has always been about doing artistic things with their devices. Now, a new and free curriculum becomes available. For education, this really misses the mark – at least for the 2018-19 school year. According to the website, it will be available this fall. I would have thought that the best possible marketing option would be to have it available this spring, or at least in time for the ISTE conference, so that summer workshops and learning opportunities could gear up the base for September. Time will tell whether or not this makes an impact. The highlights – Video, Music, Drawing, and Photography were once right in Apple’s wheelhouse. Other options have been developed for the web that address these things very nicely. Will the new iPad and Pencil make such an impact that it will change things? It looks like Apple is predicting that it will with 200GB of storage made available per user.
Schoolwork makes the promise of being Apple’s contribution to the Learning Management System community. How will this be adopted? Handin and Handout and application control have been a big part of fully implemented systems that have been in place for years. The feature list could be describing G Suite for Education or OneNote. What will make this so outstanding that a school district would change its technology implementation plans to incorporate this? I do like the fact that Apple has explicitly talked about Privacy in its presentation about management of student accounts.
In the learning to code field, there’s Swift Playgrounds. It comes with a great deal of hype and promise. But, is it late to the party? The educational world seems to have poured all their energies in other areas – Scratch being the big one that comes to mind. Can a downloaded standalone application win over those who have become reliant on a web-based sharing and remixing environment?
In the education sphere, Apple has been criticized for being quiet and not stepping up and pushing things forward. With these announcements, I don’t see the push that I would have expected. In many ways, it looks like playing catch up. I hope that I’m wrong and that we’re going to experience a big step forward. At this point, I just don’t see it.