Tomorrow’s the day for the first Apple launch of 2018, and it’ll be kicking off from 8AM PT, 11AM ET and 4PM BST.

We’ll be at Chicago’s Lane Tech College Prep School (which calls itself the school of champions…) where whatever Apple is announcing will be shown off.

We know that Apple’s been making plays into the classroom for a long time, but with Google’s Classroom initiative ramping things up in that area, the Cupertino brand will be desperate to fight back and get a whole new generation using and coding for its platform.

New iPad 2018

We’re almost certain that this one will be turning up – all the rumors are pointing towards a new, low-cost iPad arriving at the education event.

In terms of price, we’re hearing rumors that it could be pretty cheap, with the cost all the way down to US$259 (converted to £190 or AU$340, but more likely £249 / AU350 based on the way Apple’s been pricing things).

The device itself will therefore be pretty low spec, but applicable to the basic tasks – could that mean a smart connector with new keyboard, but a lower spec inside to save money?

We’re expecting a ‘standard iPad’ look to the device, so 9.7-inch screen and chunkier bezels than the new iPad Pro.

We’re not thinking that there’s going to be a new iPad Pro announced at this event, as the range has only just been refreshed in the middle of 2017 – education is all about lower-cost devices that can be offered to more students, so Apple will be keen to keep things all about that.

A New Apple Pencil- Or New Features

The Apple Pencil is clearly going to feature heavily here, with the invite (which you can see a the top of this article) openly showing the familiar swipes and swooshes of the Pencil’s work.

We’re pretty sure from the invitation that we’re going to see a low-cost iPad that works with the Apple Pencil, and given we’ve recently heard news that Apple is increasing production of that accessory, it makes sense that we’re going go get more compatible devices.

Will it be a new Pencil with lesser features (such as lower sensitivity and battery life) to save cost, or will it be the same model… which is pretty pricey? We’ll be on the scene to find out.

A Cheaper MacBook?

There have been whispers that Apple will be bringing a new, lower-cost MacBook to proceedings, but that ‘cheaper’ price tag would be less than $1,000 / £1,000 / AU$1,500… which isn’t all the cost effective for a student.

The tip was that this would be to compete with the Chromebook, which has become a darling of the education sector, but recently Apple sources have reportedly told Bloomberg that “it probably won’t be ready in time for [the March 27 event].”

Looks like we’ll be waiting a little longer on that one… on the plus side for Apple, taking it out of the education event will see it have wider appeal than just for the education sector.

ClassKit

This has been mooted in iOS 11.3, according to 9to5Mac, and seems a dead cert to be shown off at the Chicago event.

There’s not a lot known about it, except for a screengrab which showed the ability for ‘ClassKit enabled’ apps to be synced together, so teachers can assign tasks to students and presumably collect in homework remotely.

Apple already has a Classroom app to allow this, but we’d imagine that this would be improved and expanded upon at the event.

With that in mind, we’d imagine that there would be a further announcement on iCloud storage, to make it more useful for storing materials for students for lessons.

On top of that, iBeacon could possibly get a technology refresh, with cheaper devices making it easy for all lesson materials to instantly flash onto a student’s device when they walk into the classroom.

An Updated iTunes U and Coding Plan

iTunes U, like the Classroom app, had already been used for years to let teachers get access to courses and create their own materials for classes – and we’d expect this functionality to expand and develop alongside.

The platform could be rolled into one platform – with a name we’ve yet to discover – to create a one-stop shop for all course materials, assignments and feedback from teachers – in the same way Apple often refines its portals like Home and Health.

Swift Playgrounds, the app where kids are encouraged to learn to develop, will likely be given its time in the spotlight too, with Apple showing how easy it is to make that part of the curriculum with the new iPads… but whether all schools take this up is another matter.


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Author: Gareth Beavis
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