On March 27th, Apple Computers, Inc. hosted a field trip to Lane Technical College Prep High School in Chicago to unveil its latest iPad for education, new augmented reality features (tinyurl.com/AppleAR2018), new educationally enhanced versions of popular iWork suite of apps, and new tools and training to help educators be more successful with creating meaningful and engaging lessons. Because Apple recognized all of our schools as Apple Distinguished Schools, members of the Gurnee School District 56 (IL) administration team were invited to be among the 200 guests who heard Apple CEO Tim Cook introduce the new products and services. We also heard from product experts and all-star educators from around the world.
This was only the second time Apple made a major announcement away from its California-based headquarters (the other time being the 2012 event announcing the iBooks Author tool at the Guggenheim). By making this announcement in a school, Apple made it clear that it has vowed to restore its 40-year commitment to education and make the betterment of our schools a top priority. The schedule for the day was complete with school bells and hallway announcements to usher guests to the next “class.” In various classrooms and labs, we were able to see and try new products, software, and tools, including the new iPad and Apple Pencil. Participants could fly a drone, navigate a Sphero through a course coded in Swift Playgrounds, and see demonstrations of Apple School Manager and the new Apple Classroom app. Attendees included not only Apple dignitaries like Tim Cook, Phil Schiller (senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple), and Angela Ahrendts (senior vice president of retail at Apple), but also former US Vice President Al Gore, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, and Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel.
The new sixth-generation iPad (priced for education at $299) contains the incredibly powerful A10 processor, which allows for the use of the new Apple Pencil, now priced for education at $89. With new versions of the apps Pages, Numbers, and Keynote, the Apple Pencil can be used to create dynamic presentations. It also gives teachers the ability to grade digital assignments. Students can embed annotations in their presentations using Apple’s new Smart Annotation feature. Previously, teachers could create iBooks only on their MacBooks or iMacs, but interactive iBooks can now be created with iBooks Templates in the new version of Pages. Thanks to advancements in the Classroom app, teachers can now use Apple Classroom on their Macs as well as their iPads for classroom management. The new Schoolwork app by Apple allows for a simplified work flow. Teachers can assign digital work and students can receive and work on their digital assignments and turn their assignments back to the teacher—and teachers can grade or assess their completed assignments without ever having to print a sheet of paper! Apple also took time to reaffirm its commitment to data privacy, especially when it comes to student privacy, and reviewed its Everyone Can Code initiative, which is Apple’s curriculum for students of all ages to learn how to code.
Thanks to Apple’s continued commitment to teachers through its Apple Teacher professional development program, teachers (including almost every teacher in District 56) have earned over one million badges as they’ve learned new digital teaching methods and ways to integrate technology for fostering increased student engagement and achievement. The next chapter in this endeavor is Apple’s Everyone Can Create online, self-paced curriculum. This new, free curriculum (coming this fall) will make it fun and easy for teachers to integrate drawing, music, filmmaking, or photography into their existing lesson plans for any subject.
It was an awesome experience, and I’m proud that because of the great work our teachers do on a daily basis, Gurnee District 56 was invited to attend this event. For more pictures and live videos of the event, visit tinyurl.com/AppleEvent2018.
Phil Hintz, Director of Technology, Gurnee School District 56