If first impressions are anything to go by, the consensus on Apple’s new iOS 9.3 seems to be positive. “They have a great model for shared iPad use,” Leo Brehm from Northborough Southborough (MA) says, “and their new classroom management tool looks powerful.” Northborough Southborough will pilot the tool in their 1:1 iPad program. While Brehm applauds the larger-capacity hard drives on the new iPads, he’d still like to see the ability to distribute more resources to other devices like Chromebooks.
Scott Smith from Mooresville (NC) is similarly optimistic and looking forward to the improved control and access to managing devices that the new version, together with the current release from FileWave, will bring.
Doug Klassen, from SWSD in Saskatchewan, says they’re just beginning a trial of the TabPilot MDM for their Apple devices. He’s also hopeful that the new iOS will allow a new level of control for teachers. “We are looking forward to the new teacher tools iOS 9.3 will provide,” Klassen says, “and combined with TabPilot’s easy-to-use interface, we believe we will have an excellent solution for our staff and students.”
“Integrating this system with our MDM and SIS will be a challenge, but the payoff should be worth it,” says Carl Hooker, Director of Innovation & Digital Learning at Eanes ISD (TX). “When you add the integration with Apple TVs, you can start to see a truly paperless classroom in the future. That said, I still have a couple of concerns. One is that I don’t want this new functionality to encourage a more teacher-controlled classroom, as I feel like that’s a step backwards. The other is that, while I think this is a great step one, I’ll be curious to see how much more Apple will be willing to go down the road of creating a truly integrated classroom—one that takes MDM, SIS, and LMS (maybe with an update/integration with iTunesU) and combines them all with Apple’s simple and user-friendly design.”
“We have been piloting iOS 9.3 for the past three weeks,” says Phil Hintz, Director of Technology at Gurnee School District 56 (IL). “We have also been piloting the iOS 9.3 Classroom App in a few of our Kindergarten and Middle School classrooms. Overall the teachers have reported that they are really enjoying its user-friendly and easy-to use-interface.”
Stephanie Esteban, a 7th-grade Social Studies teacher at Gurnee, reports, “The best part is the ‘applications in use’ feature, which provides a quick and easy way to see what apps kids have open, even during instruction.” She also reported that, “the screen display allows me to check on students’ progress during their work to ensure that they are completing it correctly and staying on task, or if they need any assistance.”
“The only negative issue that teachers have come across in their piloting has been that some students will suddenly go ‘offline,’ even though their Bluetooth is turned on,” says Hintz. “As with any new software, there are always a couple of bugs to be worked out, but Apple’s new iOS 9.3 Classroom is definitely a new tool in the arsenal of teachers’ hands.” Gurnee District 56 plans to fully rollout this and Apple School Manager district-wide for the 2016-17 school year.