Apple on Tuesday announced a new initiative for educators, called Apple Teacher Portfolio, designed to help schools more easily integrate technology into their curriculums. The new project, which is being offered for free, is being released alongside updates to the company's Schoolwork and Classroom apps, designed to help teachers manage students' homework assignments, handouts and activities.
"To support schools in getting the most from Apple products, we developed professional learning as an essential part of our education offering," said Susan Prescott, who helps lead up Apple's developer education marketing efforts, in a statement. "The new Apple Teacher Portfolio helps build educators' confidence in reimagining their lessons and recognizes them for the great work they do every day."
Apple's expanded education efforts are just the latest way the company is working to get its products in the hands of teachers and students. It's built special-purpose software to help students share iPads without their exposing personal information, as well as prewritten activities built around apps like Apple's free GarageBand music editing software and iMovie video editing tools. And it's created cheaper iPads, based on the company's older iPad designs with home buttons and thicker bezels, to help entice schools to buy its products.
The tech giant faces stiff competition, though. Google's Chromebook initiative, using a variant of its popular web browser to power ultra-cheap laptops, has become one of the most popular tech initiatives in schools around the world. The laptops, which similarly offer ways for students to sign in to individual accounts and share the laptops around their classroom, can hit below $250 in some cases, compared to about $300 for Apple's cheapest iPad (though Apple and other companies do offer volume pricing to schools as well). As a result, Chromebooks made up 60% of shipments to K-12 schools in the US in 2018, according to research firm Futuresource Consulting.
So far, Apple said, more than 5,000 K-12 institutions worldwide are using its Everyone Can Create curriculum ideas. And Apple added that the number of teachers using its tech training program has doubled in the past year.
Apple has added features to its school software in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well. The tech giant said its Classroom app will soon be able to work with students learning remotely, as well as in the same classroom. Apple has also made it easier for teachers to share their projects and assignments with colleagues, supporting files from other educational apps.
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