News Analysis: Apple Brings New Post Pandemic Solutions To Remote Learning

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The latest CDC guidelines highlight the major challenges administrators and educators have for reopening schools.   The general principle – the more interactions, the longer interactions, the higher the risk of #COVID-19 spread.

The CDC states that the risk of COVID-19 spread increases in school settings as follows:

Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.

More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects (e.g., hybrid virtual and in-person class structures, or staggered/rotated scheduling to accommodate smaller class sizes).

Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

As a result, the following five trends are expected in the classroom and will require different tools, approaches, and cultural shifts:

  1. Support hybrid learning models.  From remote learning to in classroom, educators expect to seamlessly move between teaching modalities should further outbreaks occur.  Flexibility requires both educators and students to be able to access curriculum and assignments regardless of modality.  Expect more days in the classroom to make up for lost time.
  2. Improve student engagement.  As with workers facing death by video call, students seek new ways for engagement.  Endless video calls create learning burnout. New engagement models such as augmented reality and virtual reality will gain adoption.   In addition, students will need additional means to continue in person socialization when in remote learning modes as part of a more holistic education.
  3. Deliver more teacher tools.  From sharing class materials, to creating curriculum, to assigning activities, educators need more tools to augment and automate teacher workflows.  The new remote learning requirements in hybrid learning modalities require the ability to keep a consistent experience in teacher tools.
  4. Improve velocity of curriculum creation.  Teachers and educators seek tools that improve curriculum creation.  Teachers want the ability to share content and classroom materials with other teachers through templates and an open source type of community on teaching materials.
  5. Addressing mental health.  With kids and teachers in remote learning environments, expect many diagnoses of mental health issues to be hidden.  Administrators and parents will need to be more vigilant in identifying and treating mental health issues earlier.

Apple’s provided a broad base of educator tools over the years through the new Schoolwork 2.0, Collaboration, Shared iPad, Assessment Mode, and Classroom (see Figure 1)

Figure 1. Apple Provides a Broad Base of Educator Tools for K-12

Source: Apple, Inc.

The latest updates to its Spring 2020 Education line up include:

Schoolwork 2.0 Augments Key Teacher Workflows

Schoolwork is an iPad app that gives teachers and students the ability to support remote learning and classroom environments (see Figure 2).  Released May 2020, the latest version of Schoolwork 2.0 improve the ability to share content with students, put key apps to use, track student progress, personalize coursework and instruction to student needs, and deliver instant feedback and collaboration tools.   Students can check assignments on their iPad devices by class and due date.  Teachers can check in to see how students are doing.  Coursework, handouts, and assignments can be managed.  Teacher workflows can be optimized.

Schoolwork is pretty intuitive as educators can see their classes, students, and handouts.  Teachers start with the creation of handouts.  Students will see Handouts for all their classes in the dashboard and can track by class and due date. Files are automatically organized in iCloud Drive for the teacher and student.

One feature that stands out is the collaboration capability with Apple’s apps: Pages, Keynote, Numbers.  Teachers in real-time can view, edit, add comments, record audio when students are working in a collaborative file.  The result – coaching, real-time feedback, and interactive learning.

Figure 2. Inside Apple’s New Schoolwork

Source: Apple, Inc.

Inside Schoolwork, Apple School Manager gives teachers the ability to assess class and student progress (see Figure 3).  Teacher’s can see time 
spent on the activity, percentage completed, quiz scores, hints used, or 
points earned on a handout and activity.  Apps that support student progress automatically send information about 
 how students are doing after they complete the activity.This gives teachers the quantitative metrics needed to determine personalization requirements in the classroom.  Teachers can tailor assignments to help.  Many apps also support automatic student progress updates.

Figure 3. Tracking Progress Inside School Manager

Source: Apple, Inc.

Classroom Updates

The Apple Classroom app for iPad and Mac enable teachers to manage the class room, share activities and work, manage student devices, and monitor progress. Using one-to-one or shared environments, educators have the ability to augment their daily classroom workflows (see Figure 4).

Teacher start by creating a class.  If the school is using mobile device management (MDM), the classes may be configured automatically. Once student are invited, teachers can manage how their iPad’s are managed and what apps they have access to. Teachers can organize their classroom by creating break out groups or one-on-one experiences.  From launching and lcoking apps, to navigating to speicfic content, to sharing documents, and receiving documents, teachers have full control curriculum and content management for the classrom.

Educators monitor progress and can view a student’s screen, check in on pgoress, mute the sound and lock the screen, share work onto an AppleTV.  Apple Classroom enables device management where teachers can mute the sound, lock the screen, and even reset student passwords.   Classroom with MDM supports shared iPads.  Once a class ends, a summary is provided to share activity on student time, work completed, and overall student activity.

Figure 4. Classroom Provides Real Time Views
Source: Apple, Inc.

Additional Offerings Augment and Enhance K-12 Requirements

In addition, Apple has had a number of tools to improve student engagement such as:
  • iCloud enhancements.  New capabilities include iCloud Drive folder sharing, sharing auto-accept, and global sharing permissions.  This enables seamless sharing in the classroom
  • iWork updates.  Track pad support, new template, offline editing, and drop caps, make it easier to create content.
  • New Assessment mode.  Educators can provide testing and assessment capabilites.  These new features meet secur testing requirements and are available on the iPad and Mac.  Assessment mode restrict sfeatures, locks into a single app, and doesn’t require mobile device management.
  • Teacher resources and community.  Apple has built a strong community among educators with the Apple Education Learning Series, a set of ongoing programs for educators in K-12.  The Professional Learning Coaching sessions share best practices and provide coaches.  The Apple Teacher Learning Center shares ideas, curriculum, and techniques.  Apple also has a community of distinguished educators its developed over the years.
  • iPad for AR in Learning.  Augmented reality (AR), enables teachers to bring visual experiences, overlay information, and provide contextual insights to the learning environment.  Sample lesson ideas include: History – Civilizations AR, Math – Measure, Literacy and Literature – AR Makr, Science – Froggipedia (see Figure 4), Science – WWF Free Rivers, and Math – GeoGebra Augmented Reality
  • Privacy support for the learning environment. Apple’s security approach ensures that student work and personal information remain secure.  Using managed Apple IDs, administrators can control how information is shared, which apps are enabled or disabled, and what services such as FaceTime, iMessage, and Schoolwork are deployed.  Apple also has ISO 27001 and 27018 certifications for protecting PII in the cloud.   Further, Apple is a signatory for the Student Privacy Pledge

Figure 5. Froggipedia – Using AR to Study A Frog’s Anatomy

Source: Apple, Inc.

The post pandemic learning environment can benefit from new tools and techniques to help educators in the classroom.  Apple’s latest offerings bring the ease of use and user experience Apple’s known for with the much needed technology to improve the creation of curriculum, management of teacher workflows, and student engagement required in hybrid classroom modalities.  The push to remote learning and the need to switch modalities require key technology tools and a community network to share ideas.   Constellation recommends that K-12 educators, administrators, and technology teams consider Apple’s offering in vendor selection short lists.

Are you an educator working on remote learning?  Are you using Apple’s K-12 capabilitieas?  Will you be ready to handle the coronavirus and other pandemics?  Ready to build your post pandemic playbook?  Let me know, we can help! Add your comments to the blog or reach me via email: R (at) ConstellationR (dot) com or R (at) SoftwareInsider (dot) org.

(Cross-posted @ A Software Insider’s Point of View)

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