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The new iPad doesn’t outsmart Google’s classroom strategy

by Justin Herrick | April 2, 2018April 2, 2018 9:00 am PDT

The iPad is a tablet for everyone, but the newest model is made with an emphasis on education. Apple wants to reclaim the market share it lost to Google during the rise of Chrome OS. Within classrooms nationwide, a large number of teachers and students are using Chromebooks rather than MacBooks and iPads.

Losing its lead hasn’t deterred Apple. The company announced the iPad (2018) at a high school in Chicago, and the entire presentation included those who make up our education system. Along with new hardware, Apple launched new software. It should mean the new iPad, with the help of apps like Classroom and Schoolwork, can improve the learning experience for children of any age.

But the problem is that, while the tablet is less expensive than ever, Apple still makes it borderline impossible for the vast majority of school districts to go all-in on its products and services.

Apple’s iOS outperforms Chrome OS on paper, but Google and its partners discovered that achieving the basics on a budget always wins out in education. The new iPad also requires some add-on items to actually operate in ways teachers and students might need.

Time for some math, kids. The iPad is $329 but education customers can pick one up for $299, which is already pricier than the Chromebooks that have flooded classrooms.

Accessories are also required to maximize the new iPad’s potential. The Apple Pencil is discounted to $89, but maybe Logitech’s Crayon at $49 is the stylus of choice. Well, the setup isn’t complete without a keyboard. No one is going to do everything using a virtual keyboard. Tack on another $99 for a proper keyboard case.

Add all that up, and the iPad with a stylus and keyboard is suddenly in the neighborhood of $450 before taxes and shipping.

School districts are tight on money, as any parent will tell you. The U.S. government loves to express care for our children, but in reality it’s been taking money out of public schools for the better part of a decade. Staff are being cut, supplies are extremely limited. Many teachers use their own money to pay for tools that can help their children understand the material easier.

Asking a school district in the current climate to pay $299 per iPad from the get-go seems, well, strange. Whether it’s a small Wisconsin town or a big city like Miami, school districts are simply unwilling to drop big money on technology when there are cheaper alternatives available.

We’ve also seen Apple’s efforts in education backfire. In 2015, the Los Angeles Unified School District reached a $6.4 million settlement with Pearson after administrators and teachers couldn’t figure out how to use the products provided to them. The second-largest school district in the U.S. initially committed to a $1.3 billion plan that would give everyone an iPad.

After that fiasco, Apple took a hard look in the mirror to understand it’s approach to education is wrong. The new iPad and its education-focused software do little to make Google worry.

The power of the iPad (2018) shouldn’t be questioned. Inside the tablet is Apple’s A10 processor, which launched with the iPhone 7 in 2016. So it’s a very strong tablet that can handle file management and complex apps with ease. Most school districts, though, can’t afford to buy iPads in bulk.

Acer, ASUS, HP, and Lenovo are among the brands rolling out Chromebooks with low prices. Aside from being cheap for regular consumers, school districts can rack up their Chromebooks to fill classrooms at a fraction of what Apple charges. The $30 discount on Apple’s tablet doesn’t accomplish much to attract the attention of decision-makers.

Apple doesn’t need to cheat on this test. It just needs to borrow some notes for studying. Teachers want to teach, students want to learn. Apple won’t automatically get an A+ for having a good name and being nice to look at. The ability to educate on a budget is the only way to push Google Classroom and Chromebooks aside, and the iPad (2018) doesn’t achieve that.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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