Students may have a new $299 iPad to tote around to class after Apple's education event in Chicago today (March 27). But teachers didn't walk away empty-handed from the event, as Apple rolled out some new software tools aimed at helping them hand out digital assignments and manage the Apple tablets their students are using.
That latter task will be handled by Apple Classroom, an already available tool for the iPad that's coming to the Mac in June. As for assignments and other tasks, that will be the role for a new Apple offering called Schoolwork. Here's what you need to know about these new and expanded classroom tools.
What Is Schoolwork?
Apple touts Schoolwork as a free cloud-based app for delivering handouts to students' iPads and checking on their progress. Those handouts can include anything from PDFs to documents to links, and Apple says that sharing them with students will be as easy as sending out an e-mail.
One of the more interesting features in Schoolwork is its ability to link to specific parts of apps. Support for that kind of deep linking allows teachers to make very specific assignments.
As for checking on student progress, Schoolwork will show a completion percentage for how much of the assignment each student has tackled. Schoolwork also provides teachers with a look at everything a particular student has done.
What About Privacy?
Apple hopes to make privacy a major advantage for Schoolwork. During today's presentation, Apple vice president of product marketing Susan Prescott stressed that while teachers can see what students are working on, no one else can — including Apple. It's clear that Apple is hoping educators compare and contrast that stance with Google and its approach to amassing data.
What Apps Will Work With Schoolwork?
That remains to be seen. Apple is introducing a ClassKit developers tool to iOS 11 that will let app makers integrate their software with Schoolwork.
When Will Schoolwork Be Available?
Apple plans to release Schoolwork in June, with an eye toward letting educators familiarize themselves with the new program before the start of the next school year in the fall. Coincidentally, Apple's developer conference is also in June, so that's a chance to sell app makers on the merits of adding Schoolwork integration to their apps.
How Is Schoolwork Different from Classroom?
Classroom already exists, at least on the iPad. It's a device management tool that gives teachers the ability to remotely control devices in the classroom — handy for things like checking in on what individual students are doing with their iPads at a particular moment or launching particular apps on students' tablets. Another nice feature in Classroom is the ability to display the work from a student's iPad on an Apple TV for class discussion and to review assignments.
Apple wants to bring Classroom to the Mac, particularly for teachers who are more comfortable managing things from a laptop or dekstop instead of a mobile device. The macOS version of Classroom arrives in beta form this June.
Image Credits: Apple
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