With Apple's Claris, digital transformation goes to school

Claris Connect is a powerful new student information integration system that enables powerful digital workflows for educators.

A stack of school books sits on a desk, with an apple on top. [Education/Learning]

Just as digital transformation accelerated in the enterprise, the implementation and deployment of tech in the education sector has also accelerated, prompting Apple’s Claris subsidiary to introduce an integration between SIS (Student Integration Systems) and Apple's educational tech, which it calls Claris Connect for Apple School Manager.

Digital tools as learning goes remote

“Schools across the U.S. constantly face challenges around getting the most meaningful information out of the volumes of data gathered and processed each day—- which we are solving with Claris Connect for Apple School Manager,” Brad Freitag, CEO at Claris, said in a statement.

The product has been designed to help education establishments integrate SIS data with Apple School Manager, through which it can flow across additional tuition, support and learning systems. Claris Connect includes support for SIS systems from Aeries, Follet Aspen, and Skyward.

The idea behind this integration is that administrators, teachers, students, and parents can more easily access Apple’s education-focused services, apps, and technology. The system uses the OneRoster specification from the IMS Global Learning Consortium, a spec designed as a secure standard to use when sharing confidential school information such as rosters, courses, enrollments and grades between SIS systems and supporting solutions for learning.

It also makes it easy to automate the creation of Managed Apple IDs at scale, which is useful when new students join the school.

Enabling unique digital workflows

The idea is that SIS data can feed directly into other learning tools, applications, and digital content. This extends to building unique workflows that use popular platforms, including Excel, Twitter, Box, MailChimp, Trello, Asana, Stripe and many more.

That’s as useful in education as it is to the enterprise and provides a good illustration of how digital tools can transform and automate essential business processes — from inventory management and visitor tracking to course scheduling and more.

For teachers, it should reduce the time spent ensuring pupils have the right information for the current lesson, as well as being able to check attendance and attainment at a glance.

As an Apple-owned subsidiary, Claris (formerly FileMaker) also supports its parent company’s other solutions for students and educators (and offers 200GB of iCloud storage to encourage collaboration). This extends to Apple’s Classroom and Schoolwork apps, both of which were recently updated with the introduction of remote learning resources.

Connect also supports Apple’s shared iPad data system, which lets schools securely share devices between students with personalized spaces on each device. Since 2020, Apple has offered an equivalent of this for iPads shared across enterprises.

The way this works: A student signs in with their Apple ID and digital assets (such as courses, tasks, messages, attainment records, and so on) are downloaded to the device from iCloud. Data is also cached so if a single iPad is shared across a small number of people, all documents, apps, and other content will already be on the device at  sign-in.

What happens in schools

“We have been using Claris Connect to allow integration with Apple School Manager and other software packages, which gives us the flexibility to leverage software that’s perfect for us,” said Steve Palomo, IT director at Beverly Public Schools in a statement. Beverly Public Schools serves over 4,500 students.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the school had to enable virtual learning for students almost overnight, which it claims was made easier by its decision to use Claris and Apple School Manager.  It was able to “flip a switch nearly overnight and create a remote school.”

Elsewhere, Ethel Dwyer Middle School uses Claris’ FileMaker platform to build and manage unique apps for the school.

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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