How Apple is replacing Macs with iPads at school


Apple Event 10/4 18 iPad Education Tim CookSince the days when Apple(s aapl) was just a computer company, it’s prioritized the education market to some degree. Today there are plenty among us whose first time using a Mac was at school. But since the iPad arrived, it’s begun to supplant the Mac at schools. On the company’s earnings call Tuesday, CEO Tim Cook declared that the adoption of the iPad by educational institutions was “unlike anything I’ve seen in technology.”

Apple sold 1 million iPads, or two times as many iPads as Macs, to schools last quarter, and that’s despite “record” Mac education sales, according to CFO Peter Oppenheimer. Surely, the iPad 2, last year’s model that Apple kept around to sell for $100 less than the least-expensive new iPad, was a major factor in that. While more new iPads were sold overall, K-12 institutions buying the iPad 2 were an important force in driving total Apple sales of the iPad during the quarter to 17 million units, a company record.

“The adoption of the iPad in education is something I’ve never seen in any technology,” Cook said on a call with investors. “Education tends to be a conservative institution, but we’re not seeing that at all on the iPad. It’s been a big help for us.”

Besides price, one of the reasons students and schools are drawn to the tablet is that Apple isn’t just selling them hardware, but apps and services too. Apple introduced its iBooks education initiative in January, which included an updated iBooks app that specifically supports digital and interactive textbooks, a textbook authoring tool, and a dedicated iTunes U app.

But even before that, Apple had been distributing educational videos, lectures and course material for all ages through iTunes U. On the heels of Apple’s news about the iPad’s success in education, iTunes U is receiving a few updates too. As of Wednesday, any teacher can sign up to distribute courses via the service, instructors can set up private courses and invite specific students, there’s an updated note-taking feature that lets students easily track back to places in their notes that reference audio or video clips. And, since Apple is adding sharing to everything else, naturally you can also now share courses via Twitter, email or the Messages app.

Here’s the by-the-numbers breakdown of Apple’s education initiatives:

  • Sold 1 million iPads to schools between April and June — double the number Apple sold during the same quarter a year ago.
  • Saw 500,000 Mac sales to schools last quarter, an all-time record.
  • Still sold 2 iPads for every Mac it sold to K-12 and colleges.
  • 14 million iTunes U downloads since the app was introduced for iOS in January.
  • Since Apple’s big education and iPad initiative in January, 700 K-12 schools and 125 colleges have signed up to use iTunes U.
  • 750 courses have been added in that same time frame
  • There are 500,000 iTunes U audio and video files available for download.
  • iTunes U courses have been downloaded 750 million times.


Dane Barse

The PC is dead. Anyone with any vision knew that two years ago- now watch the struggle as Microsoft and the ingrained PC Police lose the battle to hold on to their terrible monopoly, which held back innovation for twenty years until the Internet finally pried their grip

Justin Baeder

I agree that the adoption rate of the iPad is unprecedented in the history educational technology.

The phrase “Apple’s total education apps package” is a bit misleading – it’s not Apple’s apps that are drawing educators to the iPad, but the 200,000-plus third-party apps that they can use with their students.

iTunes U is also not a good indication of how the iPad is being used in the classroom, as it solves only a narrow problem. They are, for the most part, not being used as textbooks or lesson delivery platforms, but as computers on which students do their work.


Its’ terrible. The iPad is blocking students from meeting the real world – the closed ecosystem of Apple will make them stumble the first time they set foot in the real world, and meet Google Apps, MS Office and the thousands of free webbased services like, diipo, TodaysMeet and others, that the iPad is not suited for.

Besides, the ergonomics of the iPad will make the students hate them in a few years. Apple marketing and blinded teachers and bloggers won’t change these facts.

Jay Em Tucker

I couldn’t disagree more with your position. I agree that some Web-based services don’t work well on the iPad, especially if they have Flash-based components, but I have successfully used most Google Apps on the iPad (worked best in desktop/classic mode), Docs to Go (but I prefer to use Pages for word processing), and have had NO issues at all with setup or entering comments in TodaysMeet. Using alternative browsers such as Puffin, iSwifter, or Rover usually gets me around any issues with Flash. I think our students will be able to adapt to the real world just fine…


I agree its just Apple marking hype. These devices are terrible for ergonomics and productivity. My test with students proved they just switch apps and play games when the teacher is not working directly with them. We are not going to adopt any table until these issues are resolved. The Windows 8 tables look like a possibility but we will wait and see.


I would think this seems like a good opportunity for kids to learn the real work/world experience of having distractions and still being responsible and getting your work done. At college, work, etc people are not watched every second and manage to make the responsible decision most of the time. If this opportunity for distraction is presented earlier, perhaps it will help train them for the future. Also, kids have always written notes, played games with the kids next to them doodled, texted on their phones (in recent years), etc when the teacher isn’t looking – so this isn’t unheard of.


I think this is the best thing to happen in a school since sliced bread. If we want our kids to succeed academically and be able to compete with other students globally we need to move from the industrial age of teaching into the technological age. The students in this school will probably become more interested in doing school work and enjoy learning more because someone had the foresight to put technology into the classroom. Kudo’s to all involved.


I agree, the difference this time around is that content is being taken seriously. It’s not the technology itself that will help improve education (except perhaps computer science), but fact that iPads place great content right into students’ hands.
Furthermore, because of the single-app interface (i.e. no multitasking on iPads), these devices don’t have as much potential for distracting students away from the primary content.
As I’ve written on my blog (, the iBooks authoring is a powerful tool that is changing education by allowing educators to create high production value content specifically tailored to their courses.

Simon Cohen

Much like with the enterprise adoption of the iPhone, the education sector’s adoption of the iPad isn’t being driven by Apple, but rather by educator’s enthusiasm for the device and the plethora of educational apps available. From what I’ve seen at our local schools, principals are making the decision (with the board’s help) to allocate funds to iPads. It’s really a bottom-up scenario.


I am a secondary math teacher and have not found any useful apps to use. (specifically Algebra apps)
Recommendations, please!

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