iOS 9.3: The Education Update

Although there is no release date set for Apple's iOS 9.3 it's already generating buzz a day after the beta hit developers. Most notable for me are all the features announced to support iPads in the classroom. Here's my take on what schools can expect with the new release:

Poor Owen

This screen grab immediately caught my attention.

Not only does it seem to show an interface where the teacher can push apps to students, but the teacher can also lock screens or navigate the web. My favorite feature though is that it seems to indicate the teacher can see which apps the students are using... or not using as in the case of poor Owen who hasn't taken his iPad out of his backpack yet.

Carts Are Cool Again

Many lower schools use iPads in a shared classroom or cart environment. Something called 'Shared iPad' seems purpose built for this scenario. Students log into any device and it becomes theirs. If this works anything like the way a Chrome Book functions that would be awesome. My only questions are about how teachers access the student content. Is the iPad 'partitioned' or something? We'll have to wait and see.

I Read Your Email

I knew a tech director who had this on a t-shirt. Not cool... not cool. But some oversight of students in the classroom is really helpful. The new 'Classroom' app looks awesome:

  • See what students see
  • Push student work to Apple TV
  • Launch and lock apps
  • Reset forgotten passwords

I think the devil will be in the details on this. How hard is it to bundle your students together into a 'class'? If it needs to be manually set up who will do it? Does it automatically 'notice' student devices near the teacher device? Can wily high school students turn this off? Does it take precious network resources?

It's Not Called Apple Configurator... Seriously

Apple's previous attempt at management tools for iPads was a serious disaster so third part software vendors jumped in to fill the void. If Apple School Manager doesn't royally stink it could certainly help schools. I'd like to see Apple School Manager (which will inevitably be shortened to ASM) work together with other software platforms or even better for Apple to open up the API so existing MDM platforms can take advantage of these new features.

What Else?

Apple has also announced a slew of other features in 9.3 over here and you can read about all the education goodies on their preview page.

What do you think? Are you excited for iOS 9.3? Let me know in the comments!