Some of the largest technology companies in the U.S. in April are touting new products and partnerships as they compete to supply technology to K-12 classrooms.
Apple introduced a lower-priced iPad, new software and enhanced augmented reality capabilities. Priced at $299 for schools, $329 for consumers, the new iPad comes closer to matching the price point of Chromebooks, an increasingly popular device choice for school districts. It has a faster processer, which benefits users playing graphics-intensive games or experiencing AR and also is powerful enough to allow the use of multiple apps at one time. The new iPad also supports the Apple Pencil stylus, which can be used for taking notes, capturing observations on a field trip, shading detailed illustrations or marking up documents.
Apple also announced Schoolwork, a free, cloud-based app will be coming soon. The introduction of Schoolwork comes as the penetration of Google Classroom continues to grow. With Schoolwork, teachers can distribute and collect assignments, track student progress in educational apps, and collaborate one-on-one with students from anywhere, in real time. For students, assignments automatically appear on their iPad, organized by class, due date, and priority.
Google hardware partner Acer introduced a tablet computer built for education that runs Chome OS. The new tablet was developed with the goal of promoting engagement and collaboration in the classroom. It comes with access to Google Play for obtaining educational apps and planned support for the virtual reality teaching tool Google Expeditions.
Microsoft partnered with Open Up Resources, a nonprofit that provides free, openly licensed curriculum for K–12 schools, to make curriculum from Open Up available in Microsoft One Note and Forms. The intent is to provide schools with access to digital content, assessment tools and support for English-language and special-needs learners. The new partnership follows Microsoft’s January announcement of new devices, tools, content and partnerships for K-12 classroom learning.
For more information about technology in K-12 classrooms, check out Simba Information’s report, K-12 Deployment Patterns and Purchasing Plans for Computing/Display Devices 2017, which is based on a survey of educators.