Apple October 23rd event: What we know, expect and some new tidbits

Had you heard? Apple’s got a ‘little’ event going on at the newly-decorated California Theatre tomorrow where they will FINALLY showcase the iPad Mini, new Mac Minis, a Retina 13-inch MacBook Pro as well as software like iBooks 3.0 and iTunes 11.

First, the bad news: We’ve heard that the some of the iMacs that we found earlier have been pushed so far back that they might not warrant inclusion at the event this week. That doesn’t mean they are cancelled but because there have been some issues with the products and the including them is a “gameday decision”. We’re obviously hoping they make the docket.

And now the good news: Read more

Apple event will highlight education, will offer special discounts to education including iPad mini 10-packs

Rumor has it Apple’s media event tomorrow will have a strong education focus, something that seems even more likely with the recent iBooks 3.0 leaks. Of course, the fact that Apple is about to unveil its lowest priced iPad has also lead to talk that students and education might be the target audience during the iPad mini’s unveiling. TNW reported first that Apple’s event would focus on educational content—specifically iBooks. We have also independently heard that educational content is being prepared for tomorrow’s presentation.

Today, Bloomberg Businessweek backs up those reports by adding that “Apple executives plan to make a point of highlighting the iPad’s educational capabilities at tomorrow’s event.” The report cited sources familiar with the preparation of tomorrow’s events, and it noted that Apple has “realigned its education sales force to emphasize iPads.” While most analysts seem to agree iPad mini will help Apple continue to dominate the education tablet market, one thing they can’t agree on is price.

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Amazon making moves to displace iPads in schools

We know Apple has had a lot of success pushing iPads in education, and during Apple’s Q3 conference call, CEO Tim Cook said the company would continue to be “very aggressive”. Apple’s iPad 2 sales in the K-12 market doubled y-o-y in Q3 thanks to a price drop to $399. In Q2, Apple said it sold about a million iPad units to the United States education market. With Apple’s upcoming iPad mini announcement possibly bringing an even lower price point for iPads in education, Amazon is announcing its plans today to get Kindle tablets into schools.

Reuters reported today that Amazon is launching a service, called “Whispercast”, aimed at allowing schools to easily deploy and manage multiple kindle devices:

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Report: iPad in the classroom raising kindergartners’ literacy scores

Apple began its full assault on education when it launched the iPad a few years ago. The iPad offers students apps and books that are used in the classroom to help students raise their test scores. While it is still on the way to seeing a larger adoption, Apple also introduced iBooks in January to help more in education, but how effective is the iPad in student learning?

To put some numbers behind the education work Apple is doing, The Loop profiled a report based off a study done throughout a Maine school district that indicated the iPad is improving kindergartner’s literacy scores.

The school district in Auburn, Maine assigned 16 iPads to a classroom of 16 kindergartens over a 9-week period. A total of 236 students were given literacy test before the 9-week testing period for the iPad began. Over the 9 week period, 129 students were taught using an iPad, while 137 students were taught the old fashion way. The school district found that students using an iPad out-performed students not using an iPad in every literacy test by a significant margin.

Principal Sue Dorris told how the iPad benefited the kindergartners in her school, “We are seeing high levels of student motivation, engagement and learning in the iPad classrooms.” Ms. Dorris also told of how they use apps to specifically target a child’s needs, “The apps, which teach and reinforce fundamental literacy concepts and skills, are engaging, interactive and provide children with immediate feedback. What’s more, teachers can customize apps to match the instructional needs of each child, so students are able to learn successfully at their own level and pace.”

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Apple posts new iTunes U help resources

Apple created a new section on its website dedicated to the enhanced iTunes U service that was updated during last week’s education announcement. The new web-based resources available at www.apple.com/support/itunes-u contain a wealth of information and how-to topics for educators to implement the new iTunes U digital features into their workflow. Specifically, training course are available for iTunes U Public Site Manager and iTunes U Course Manager, as well as various guides on publishing on iTunes U. Educators and students can also learn about creating different types of educational content, such as audio recordings, video clips, and interactive presentations.

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Apple launches iTunes U, free iOS app for educators to take courses anywhere

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Apple’s education event is underway at New York City’s Guggenheim Museum, where Eddy Cue, the company’s vice president of Internet Software and Services, told the audience how Apple is “going to help teachers reinvent the curriculum.” Noting that Apple has seen 700 million downloads from iTunes U, Cue took the wraps off a brand new free software for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. Aptly named iTunes U, the app makes it “simple for anyone to take courses anywhere.”

Indeed, adorned with the beautiful mahogany bookshelf graphics, the app is akin to iBooks in many respects. It is aimed at teachers and supports many interesting features, including the ability to customize topics, provide students with office hours, post messages to the class and give assignments. With this app, content can be downloaded for later consumption or streamed directly to students on-demand. More information is available after the break and at Apple’s freshly updated web site.

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