What Does Apple’ s Presence In the Classroom Mean for the Future?

Apple Deals 1

With Apple selling nearly twice as many iPads and Macs this past quarter to educational institutions, it begins to paint a picture of what Apples are being used for. Computers and peripherals make great educational tools, and Apple products fit into that scope easily because of their user-friendliness. With them selling nearly twice as many in just one quarter, what does this spell out for the future of education?

Apple makes a similar offer every year to college students. Computers are sold to them with an educational discount. Educators in the primary and secondary grades can get a discount on computers as well. Not only is a discount offered, but a freebie or discount on a peripheral, such as a printer is usually offered as well.

This year, Apple is offering discounts for both Macs and iPads. If you buy a Mac through September 21, you not only get the education discount, but you also receive a $100 gift card to be used for apps, books, music and movies. If you buy the new iPad (note, not a new iPad, but THE new iPad), you don t receive any type of discount, but do receive a $50 gift card. Follow the link to find out how to qualify.

Some colleges and universities are already set up with Apple programs, usually through the school s bookstore.

You can find out if your school is included by either searching on the Apple Store for Education page or by searching for an Apple Authorized Campus Store. Even if your school isn’t included, you are still open to the education discount offer.

Of course, once you have your new Mac or iPad, they can be used to help you study and learn, and Apple makes several suggestions to help you do so.

For a Mac, they suggest apps such as Omnifocus, a great task manager, AudioNote for recording class lectures and notes, and Omni Graph Sketcher to create graphs and reports, and Reader, an RSS app that syncs with your Google Reader.

For an iPad, Apple suggests OmniFocus for iPad, again a great task manager, Evernote to sync notes and files, Smithsonian Channel for iPad for the exploration of history, and iMuscle to explore the human anatomy in 3D. And of course, the suggested apps are just a very small beginning.

Starting this year, Apple is beginning to include textbooks in iTunes. While there is no way you re going to find all the textbooks and courses you need just yet, it certainly speaks for the future of education. However, at the very least, even though these courses might not be recognized at your school, they can still be used as great study aids.

The iTunes U app offers a way to connect for free through those courses online. Going to the iTunes U store allows you to connect either with a recognized university, recognized K-12 school or school district, or beyond campus, which includes looking at museums and other media that might not be a recognized curriculum, but can also be used as study aids.

Downloading textbooks through iTunes U, you can either just download one lesson at a time, such as one chapter you are having particular difficulty with, or you can download the whole course. These courses include text, images and videos. They re like having an enhanced textbook. Additionally, this textbook includes a list of videos and apps that will aid in your studies. You can also add your own notes to help you study when you return to the chapter before a test or quiz.

Apple Deals

Basically, you can almost do all of your schooling right there on your Mac or iPad. Apple is making the entire process as easy as they can. You can get your Mac at a discounted price, and get $100 worth of free apps and books, and $50 if you buy a new iPad. They seem to eliminate the need to leave the house to get your degree.

This raises a lot of questions, and most of them center around the realization that we can do more and more learning, as well as other daily activities, online. People have been studying and earning college degrees outside of a regular classroom for years. At one point it still had to be done at a college, albeit on a televised screen, but eventually they were offered via the home television, and later when the Internet became something most people had in their homes, they started being offered on PCs and Macs.

But what about K-12? What about secondary and primary education? For the most part, that education experience hasn’t been offered online, but iTunes U is now offering some of the same textbooks that kids use in the classroom. Would it be possible for a child to go from Kindergarten through the twelfth grade without ever stepping in a classroom?

Certainly, if you take a look at the boom in homeschooling. It was something unheard of before, but technology and an overall unhappiness with the public school system have made homeschooling a much more viable solution. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, from 2003 to 2007, the number of students being home schooled in the United States rose from 1.1 million to 1.5 million.

Additionally, it seems more and more that the public school system seems unprepared to deal with both technology and educating our children. While they are doing their best to utilize the tools of technology for teaching, people that don t have children who are a school-age would be surprised to know what really goes down in schools both with and without regards to technology.

For one, while five or six years ago the schools were successful at keeping the technology out, by forbidding the use of iPods and mobile phones inside the building, there was really no way to stop that progress of technology. Every one of us depends on our gadgets, and our kids are certainly no better off. Anyone who has seen a teenager with a mobile phone in their hands knows what I m talking about. They have the fastest texting thumbs around. Schools now have looser policies regarding devices. They don t want them being used, but for kids, and for some adults as well, they re lifelines.

This means schools now have to find a way to keep kids interested so that they re not drawn to spending the whole class hour texting their friends. I can tell you that having a daughter entering her junior year of high school and a son in college, schools, universities, faculty and parents have lost touch with this control.

Do you know what kids do in study halls? In my daughter s average suburban study hall they talk, make out, text and play games on their phones. Not much studying gets done. The best we can hope for is that they re playing words with friends to increase their vocabulary, which seems like it might be improving, as kids are also allowed to swear in school these days. If parents saw what really went down in schools, they d be checking out alternative solutions.

Obviously it s a situation that needs to be controlled. It would seem that technology could be really great in schools, but it just isn t used the right way. Or perhaps there isn t enough funding in schools to be able to use technology the right way. In some schools each student is now being given an iPad. They have everything available to them right there. iPads in Schools states that at least every state in the U.S. currently has some type of iPad test program going on.

Every single fifth grader, as well as every single fifth and sixth grade teacher, in Detroit Lakes Public School District will get their own iPad. The cost? $105,000. While it might be a hard thing for school districts to readily approve, it has to be cheaper than some of the alternatives. Our school district uses older out-of-date textbooks in some situations, and the average cost of just one text book is $400. Wouldn t it make sense to give students a $500 iPad that would include every textbook they needed for the next few years? It s a difficult initial investment, but the payoff seems like it would be there.

Once every student has a device with all of their curriculum on it, are schools even necessary? Certainly, as students need some type of daily socialization, even if it is just to sit in a “study hall” and talk, make out, listen to iPods, swear and play games on their phones. But maybe the teachers don t need to teach as much with technology as it is. Maybe they need to be utilized more to keep the study hall s under control and let technology do the actual teaching.

We probably won t see this any time soon, especially in this economy. Public school districts are afraid to give everyone a $500 iPad, because they know they can stick the kids using out-of-date textbooks, yet still charge hundreds of dollars for kids to sign up for one school year. Yet, you can t stop this technology. It seems they either have to get onboard, or continue to lose students attention to the technology.