Thoughts On Apple's "Let's Take A Field Trip" Educational Keynote Address

Thoughts On Apple's "Let's Take A Field Trip" Educational Keynote Address

Today at 4pm BST, Apple hosted a keynote address called "Let's Take A Field Trip" that took place at the Lane Tech College Prep High School in Chicago. The presentation saw Apple CEO, Tim Cook take to the stage to announce the company's intentions to assist with the education sector by introducing some new software and products that are focussed on the classroom.

If you're anything like me, an "apple fan boy" then any announcement from Apple at this point is an exciting one, seeing as we didn't get our usual keynote presentation in November. Apple has since been releasing products, such as HomePod unconventionally via their online store instead of via public addresses. So now with them taking to the stage, it's exciting to see what the company has to offer. Also as someone who is currently embedded within an education establishment, this really hits the right chord.

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iPad

Apple Marketing Executive, Greg Joswiak told of how there are now over 200,000 apps for iPad that are focused on education. If any of you have had a chance to play with Apple's Swift Playground app; that helps teach the programming language "swift" that was launched back in 2014, you'll know how beneficial having a larger screened iPad can be to help deliver the core principles of coding. The app is free and I highly recommend you downloading it. Apple added in today's presentation that this app will be receiving an update to include an Augmented Reality (AR) module.

There was a lot of other talk of how iPad along with other Apple products have helped shape the classroom today. This lead to the announcement of the new iPad.

Here is a summary of the new iPad:

  • Works with Apple Pencil
  • Has a 9.7-inch retina display
  • Built-in Touch ID
  • 8 MB camera with HD 1080p video
  • Stereo speakers
  • Up to 10 hours battery life
  • Weighs just one pound

Additionally:

  • Apple will be updating iWorks: Pages, Keynote and Numbers to work with Apple Pencil and will have the ability to add annotations to projects. iWorks will be preloaded on iPad, free of charge.
  • They will also be developing digital textbooks in the future.

With regards to the design of the new iPad, it's nothing special. It has the same iPad look we've all grown to recognise since the iPad Air was launched, so no classy video from Jony Ive this time round.

An interesting highlight that Apple showed off during this part of the presentation was their AR kit. They've shown this off before but I've yet to see anything with AR come to fruition on the app store, yet. While Apple demonstrated the dissection of a frog using this technology, I'm looking forward to seeing how game developers actually use the ARKit for their games. 

The price for the new device has two price points. Being an education keynote event, this targets both consumers as well as schools. The consumer price starts at $329 while the "schools" pricing starts at $299, the same price that the previous 9.7-inch iPad was.

The new iPad is available today and will ship next week.

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Shared iPad

This is something I think is really cool. An announcement was made for the  Apple School Manager app that can be used to create Apple IDs for everyone in a school who can then share their iPads. The idea is that there will be iPads set up in classrooms that can be signed into, with the teacher taking registration and assigning work to students from a "teacher" iPad.

"Classroom for Mac" was also among the announcements (currently Classroom 2.1 on iPad) that will also be able to send assignments to the individual iPads as well as track work through an activity monitor built into the app. Student will then be able to earn badges for their work.

As I sit here and type this, I can't help but think how great it would have been to have had iPads in schools as learning tools? I wish I was young again.

Students will also be upgraded to 200GB worth of iCloud storage, an improvement from the previous 5GB allowance.

The majority of the aforementioned will be available in June.

Conclusion

This was a very short presentation by Apple, lasting just one hour. It seemed that Apple are pulling out all the stops to help make learning in the classroom easier through the use of their products in both hardware and software. While many were holding out for the announcement of a new iPad Pro, I feel this may have been the wrong event for that to have happened. This is an event for the classroom, not your home or office. It's for learning and to help make education easy but also fun. The app updates concerning iWorks, Swift Playground, Classroom and more will make a big difference. It's a positive step forward for the company but for me and probably you, not much cause for excitement.

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