Apple and Education

Apple will discontinue iTunes U at the end of 2021. iTunes U will continue to be available to all existing customers through the 2020-2021 educational year.

Nick Heer says it succinctly.

I don’t think either one of these announcements is a surprise; these apps have suffered from inattention for years. But Apple’s rocky approach to education needs and lack of clear strategy cannot be confidence-inspiring for schools or teachers who need to decide what technology to use in their classrooms.

Contrast this with Google’s strategy in education, which is pretty focused. Google Classroom is becoming the defacto standard. From the New York Times, as far back as 2017:

In the space of just five years, Google has helped upend the sales methods companies use to place their products in classrooms. It has enlisted teachers and administrators to promote Google’s products to other schools. It has directly reached out to educators to test its products — effectively bypassing senior district officials. And it has outmaneuvered Apple and Microsoft with a powerful combination of low-cost laptops, called Chromebooks, and free classroom apps.

Today, more than half the nation’s primary- and secondary-school students — more than 30 million children — use Google education apps like Gmail and Docs, the company said. And Chromebooks, Google-powered laptops that initially struggled to find a purpose, are now a powerhouse in America’s schools. Today they account for more than half the mobile devices shipped to schools.

I’d rather have Apple in these classrooms. The iPad Pro – as expensive as it is – is, to me, a superior device than Chromebooks – and I own a Pixelbook myself and like it. But Apple needs a more cogent strategy for education, especially in a remote-focused world where Google’s tools are way more useful than anything Apple has to offer.