Apple's Education Phenomenon: iPad - InformationWeek

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12/28/2012
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Apple's Education Phenomenon: iPad

iPad's popularity with students and instructors helped Apple break its own education market sales records in 2012.

 12 Best iPhone, iPad Apps Of 2012
12 Best iPhone, iPad Apps Of 2012
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At the start of 2012, at its January Education Event in New York City, Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller was widely quoted as saying, "Education is in Apple's DNA."

That now seems an understatement, considering the company's performance this year. In 2012, Apple broke its own sales records in the education market.

In the third quarter, not only were Mac sales to education at an all-time high, twice as many iPads as Macs were purchased. (It was the second consecutive quarter in which this happened.)

Specifically regarding iPad sales in the U.S. education market, Apple said its third quarter saw nearly a doubling year over year, to just under one million units.

"The adoption rate of iPad in education is something I'd never seen from any technology product in history," Apple CEO Tim Cook said during the third-quarter earnings call.

[Apple's smaller, lighter tablet may be more suitable for younger students' hands. See iPad Mini Tablet: Visual Tour.]

Apple is riding (some would say, driving) the tablet-adoption wave. Use of tablets and smartphones by K-12 students has hit 50%, according to an analysis released in October at the Wireless EdTECH conference by Blackboard and Project Tomorrow. The report, "Learning in the 21st Century: Taking it Mobile!" found 50% of high schoolers and 40% of middle schoolers use smartphones or tablets on a regular basis.

Their increasing popularity notwithstanding, tablets are no panacea.

In November, more than 500 educators attended the iPad Summit hosted by Ed Tech Teacher at Harvard Medical School.

Writing about the gathering in the Powerful Learning Practice blog, Jennifer Carey included this take-away:

"You cannot simply 'add iPads and stir.' Administrators must be prepared to fully support the faculty and students before any significant technology initiative is going to be successful. Simply handing out iPads to teachers and students (and going over the security protocols) isn't going to accelerate learning in your school. Educators need to become skillful at using these tools and then think deeply about how to integrate them into the learning environment in powerful ways."

Taking this idea to heart, a few secondary schools are standardizing on iPads for faculty and students alike.

Take Regis College, which this fall distributed iPads to all full-time faculty, full-time undergraduates and a number of graduate students. Interestingly, the iPads were distributed pre-loaded with apps for Regis' classes. Both faculty and students also received iPad training.

In the largest commitment to iPads as a secondary-school platform, the United Arab Emirates this year distributed 14,000 iPads to first-year students in the country's three higher-education institutions.

"Everyone's on mobiles and iPads, so we thought this was the right time and place for what has now become the largest systematic deployment of any mobile device in schools in the world," said Jace Hargis, director of Abu Dhabi Women's College and Khalifa City Women's College, told The New York Times in October. "Now, the goal is to roll it out to all students so that in four years, we will have complete saturation," he said.

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