Why is Tech Giant Apple Trying to Teach Our Teachers?

Apple products are already a central part of our lives in many ways. We use them to work, socialize, monitor our heart rate, pay for things, and watch TV.

But do you know that they are also involved in teaching the school teachers. The change in online learning after COVID-19 isn’t just for students. Teachers now also do a lot of professional development online, often through global technology companies or “edtechs”.

A familiar sounding example of this is Apple Teacher. This is a free vocational learning program developed by Apple for school teachers. Offered in 36 countries, including Australia, Apple Teacher claims to “support and celebrate teachers who use Apple products for teaching and learning”.

In my new research, I argue that Apple Educator is helping to position Apple as a global education specialist. This move has largely been flying under the radar.

What is Apple Teacher? Apple has sold technology to schools since the early 1980s, especially in the United States. It has also created programs for teachers using Apple technology since the mid-1990s. But the tech giant now offers teacher professional education through Apple Teacher, which was launched in 2016.

As of 2022, over 100 lessons and tutorials are freely available at the Apple Teacher Learning Center. The site promotes “self-driven travel” and “a great way for schools to provide free professional education”. There are “skill-building tutorials, lesson ideas and inspiration to deepen student learning”.

It could be as simple as how to take a selfie on a trip. Or it could be how to use coding or augmented reality in a lesson. There are also specific supports for COVID-19 distance learning, along with time-saving tips and lesson ideas.

Teachers can complete interactive quizzes on how to use Apple software to earn “badges.” If they collect six badges, they are recognized as “Apple Teachers”.

Another key feature is the Apple Teacher Portfolio. Here, teachers develop and share lesson plans that deliberately use Apple products in the classroom. These include Keynote (which creates presentations) and GarageBand (which creates music or podcasts). Completing all nine lesson plans rewards teachers with more badges and gives them additional recognition.

In addition to rewarding festivals, badges, adherent individual teachers, Apple Teacher also offers mass learning. Apple is in the middle of its third annual “Festival of Learning”. Between July 11 and 21, this global virtual conference is running 90 sessions on topics such as “building your first app” and theater design, all using Apple products.

As of July 2022, the Apple Education Twitter account (@AppleEDU) has over one million followers. While Apple isn’t limited to teacher participants, it clearly demonstrates its significant reach and appeal.

Apple Teacher is usually completed by individual teachers on their own initiative. However, schools with more than 75 percent of their staff as Apple teachers can also be recognized as an Apple specific school. While the number of Apple teachers is not publicly available, Australia currently has 47 Apple specific schools out of 689 worldwide.

A Rebranding for Apple While it is perhaps not surprising that Apple promotes the use of its products in schools, COVID-19 has clearly created a new sense of urgency and market opportunity in terms of the teaching and professional development side of the equation. has been introduced.

In remarks made in 2021, one of Apple’s vice presidents, Susan Prescott, said that the company wants to “help teachers redefine their lessons by building trust and [recognise] To them for the great work they do every day.”

In my research, I argue that Apple positions Apple as a global expert in teacher education. Apple has a lot to gain financially from this development. In 2021, the global edtech industry was valued at $85 billion (about Rs 6,78,580 crore). By 2028, it is expected to reach $230 billion (about Rs 18,36,159 crore).

By offering teacher learning and credentials and classroom curriculum guides, Apple is directly challenging more traditional sources of schooling expertise built on decades of experience and research. This includes important knowledge that teachers already possess, as well as those in universities, professional bodies and departments of education.

It is not clear what knowledge or expertise Apple uses to inform the teacher. The company generally does not conduct any research into its publicly available material. But as the world’s largest information technology company, Apple can use its brand identity to promote its own version of schooling knowledge and teaching aptitude.

Apple’s reputation for tech products will also help attract potential users to Apple Teacher, regardless of the education provided. Given an important focus on Apple teaching teachers is encouraging teachers to adopt Apple products for use in the classroom, there are also clear financial motivations.

What Next Before COVID-19, teachers were already under extraordinary pressure. In this context, it makes sense that Apple Teacher – free, recognizable and available internationally – could be attractive to more working, less appreciated teachers looking for support.

But, as teachers themselves know, not all learning opportunities are created equal.

We already have decades of research that can support quality teacher learning and classroom practice. We should not accept global edtech as the preferred source of solutions, especially when these solutions involve promoting our products.

Education policy makers and school leaders need to ensure that programs like Apple Teachers are not the only opportunities for professional development. Those teachers can do this by providing additional time for professional education, or by providing greater access to quality research behind the paywall.

Fostering closer ongoing connections between educators, professional organizations and academic researchers will allow for product placement and interaction between experts without the risk of publicity.

We cannot expect so much from teachers if we do not support the important work they do. Delegating this space to profit-driven edtech will only make the problem worse.

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