Apple education chief sees big data for education

Data is everywhere

apple chief notes big data impact on education

Apple's vice president for education, John Couch, spoke at BETT 2015 about his company's offerings for education last week. And he noted the potential for data analytics in the sector. 

Bicycles for the mind

"Steve Jobs saw technology as an amplifier for our intellect,” he said, observing that the current generation of university students were three years old when Google began and 13 when the App Store opened for business.

“This is the generation that is now sitting in our classrooms. We need a new learning environment that is going to meet the needs of this generation,” said Couch.

Apple studies have shown learning is most effective when it is engaging, collaborative and challenging – and isn’t so effective when confined to the simple regurgitation of facts.

"It's not so important that we know that Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492; what's important is what was happening around the time, what impact it had and how did that change society,” he said.

Making it personal

Personalized education is a response to different students having different learning styles and reactions.

That’s more than just making information available. Apple offers a range of content and collaboration tools within iTunes U:

  • More than 85,000 educational iPad apps,
  • More than 45,000 books created by educators
  • More than 10,000 courses
  • And iBook Authors, useful contributions from Apple’s network of Distinguished Educators.

All these items are educationally valuable, but there’s more that needs to be done to make them personal.

Apple’s recent initiatives, Learning At Every Level (a collection of digital educational resources organized by subject) and the Show What You Know system to nurture challenge-based learning, suggest some of the future. But there’s more to be done.

Analytics in school

“We need technology as the analytic engine to help the teacher. In most cases, technology has been the roadblock, but technology really empowers the teachers to meet the individual needs of each student,” Couch said.

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