What it is: Apple announced a March 27 educational event.
Apple has a surprise in store on march 27. That’s the date when they’ll hold a special educational event. What that means could be anything, but it’s likely Apple’s latest initiative to tackle the education market that’s currently dominated by inexpensive Chromebooks along with PCs running Windows.
The main reason schools choose Chromebooks is that they’re cheap and relatively foolproof to use. Chromebooks give students the chance to access the Internet but not install games or viruses by mistake. Chromebooks are easy to maintain and fairly reliable so they can take the abuse that students will dish out on a Chromebook.
In comparison, schools aren’t choosing iPads because they’re more expensive. The iPad may be more versatile but a Chromebook is much cheaper so schools have been gravitating towards Chroembooks instead of iPads.
The only way Apple can compete is to make the iPad such a compelling educational tool that Chromebooks will look far weaker and clumsier in comparison, so that’s what Apple’s educational event will likely emphasize. Instead of holding this educational event at a conference center, Apple is holding it at a Chicago high school.
Here are some hints. Back in 2016, Apple acquired a company called LearningSprout, which sold software to track student performance, trends on attendance, college readiness, student health, and more. So it’s likely Apple will emphasize this revamped LearningSprout software to show schools how they can better track students and customize education for each student’s needs.
Chicago’s school system also recently made computer science a graduation requirement, which could be another clue. Apple has been promoting coding for kids and introduced Swift Playgrounds, a way to learn Swift programming on the iPad. However, one huge problem with coding is that you can only do it on a Macintosh, not an iPad. By using Apple’s free Xcode compiler on a Macintosh, you can create apps for all Apple products such as the Macintosh, Apple Watch, and Apple TV along with the iPhone and iPad.
Since Apple already has Swift Playgrounds on the iPad, it’s likely that Apple is working on a way to create iOS apps on the iPad. That way students could learn iOS programming on the iPad, which would meet Chicago’s computer science requirement for high school students.
You can still learning programming on a Chromebook by visiting different sites, but such coding sites offer far less guidance than Apple’s Swift Playgrounds does. If Apple gives the iPad the ability to create iOS apps directly on the iPad, then kids can learn iOS programming solely on the iPad. Since iOS programming is such a valuable skill, the only way students can learn iOS programming is to use a Macintosh or an iPad. If the iPad offers LearningSprout’s software and Xcode, then schools can choose the iPad to monitor students’ progress and give them a tool to create their own iOS apps that they could sell on the App Store. This type of advantage is something Chromebooks can never match.
That’s the type of massive advantage Apple needs to push iPads into schools over Chromebooks and PCs. Swift programming on the iPad is coming. March 27 just might be the date when it comes true.