Apple’s Closed Garden is a Problem In Education.

Apple has a roll in educational technology since the first computers were introduced in the classroom. The Apple II, HyperStudio projects, the colorful iMac, the countless iPad 1:1 programs. Apple always had some of the (if not the) best products available for education. They are slipping in the education market though.

Where Apple has failed is on the software side of education.

What makes Apple products user friendly and “just work” for the consumers, is the same reason that makes it terrible for education. The closed garden approach. When it’s just you and your device, a close garden is great. It’s safe, it’s familiar, and everything works because you’re only on that one device. When you are in a school system you often work across multiple devices/platforms. Budgets often have a role in which devices and software are available. How can you expect a school to invest in Apple products and software, when they know it will only work with other Apple products.

Education technology is about a lot more than just giving students access to a computer. The internet has changed everything. The device is simply a gateway to the Internet. To the online accounts where everything is stored. To the Apps and websites where most of the work is done.

If teachers in a school use Apple Classroom, all of the teachers have to use Apple Classroom. And every students needs to have an Apple Device that can access Apple Classroom. If a teacher used Google Classroom, they only need a device that can access the internet. The students can use Apple devices, Chromebooks, Windows, even Linux. It’s a cross platform solution that is accessible to everyone.

I really want to use the Apple ecosystem, but it doesn’t work across devices. Apple Classroom and Schoolwork seem great, but it requires the students to all be on shiny iPads. Education is about choice. If the solution isn’t cross platform, it’s a no go for most school districts that have a very diverse technology landscape.

Apple hardware will always have a place in education. The software needs to be more flexible to fit the structure of education.

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