By: Nick Gambino

Apple is trying to edge into the education space with a new update to their smaller iPads. At a Chicago event attended by students and teachers, Tim Cook and Co. took the stage to announce that their 9.7-inch iPads would be updated to include Pencil support and other features geared toward the classroom.

“We’ve been at this for 40 years, and we care deeply about education,” the CEO stated. “We believe that our place at the intersection of technology and liberal arts makes it possible for us to create powerful products and tools that amplify creativity.

Until now the Pencil was only compatible with the iPad Pro, but with a $650 price point, the souped-up tablet wasn’t exactly economical for school. The new Apple tablet will sell for $329 to the general public but will cost students from K-12 only $299.

The new 9.7-inch iPad also adds support for the Logitech Crayon. This new third-party stylus will join the official lineup of writing tools for the iPad and is a great alternative to the $99 Pencil ($89 for students). Logitech is releasing a rugged case and keyboard combo as well. That will cost $99.99. Both Logitech items will be available only to students, not to the general public.

In addition to boosted connectivity and a more powerful processor chip, the iPad will see a number of specially made educational apps. For example, Schoolwork will allow teachers to send documents to students and engage students in activities they’ll complete on their own tablet. The free app is cloud-based and designed to keep all data private and secure. All students will even receive 200GB of free iCloud storage. (Send me back to high school, please.)

The event’s theme revolved around students tapping into their creativity with a device designed just for that and with software to facilitate it. “They are creators of content, rather than consumers of information,” a teacher who has been using iPads in her classroom said on stage.

This of course falls right in line with the moves Apple has always made – more visual, slick content and the devices to deliver it and thus tapping into the artist in everyone.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.