iOS for Education

Apple’s next iOS release, is putting emphasis on education. Through a new website, Education Preview, the company explains the key feature of the new software release: “Technology can reshape education. And iPad, with its powerful features and apps, opens up new, more engaging ways of learning. With the iOS 9.3 beta, you’ll find a preview of new features that will make it even easier for schools to put devices where they’ll have the greatest impact — in the hands of students.”

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Key features of Apple’s Education preview include:

  • Shared iPad. Students can log in to any iPad in any classroom and make it their own.
  • Classroom app. Teachers can guide students through a lesson, see their progress, and keep them on track.
  • School Manager. Now admins have one portal where they can do everything from create Apple IDs to purchase apps to prepare devices for MDM.
  • Managed IDs. A new kind of ID for education, Managed Apple IDs are created and assigned by the school.

Apple’s latest move is a direct response to the Google Apps for Education, which is prevalent in many schools across the nation:

Google says it has 30 million students, faculty and staff using Google Apps for Education, a free collaboration suite for schools, around the globe. But this doesn’t count teachers and schools that informally use Google apps. With the 2012 U.S. census recording 55.5 millionenrolled in U.S. K-12 schools, Google hasn’t captured the U.S. education market just yet, but appears to be well on its way. (IBT)

So once, again it’s Google vs. Apple but this time the battle is in Education!

New Education Bill


(Surprisingly) Congress passed a new education bill last week. Forget “No Child Left Behind” rolled to in 2001 and embrace “Every Student Succeeds Act“. So what are the changes?

  • Testing will continue, but STATES – not the U.S. government – will now decide how to use the results in evaluating teachers and schools. The new law encourages states to limit the time students spend on testing, and it will diminish the high stakes for underperforming schools.(Associated Press)
  • Computer Science has been included in the definition of well-rounded education subjects. Its inclusion, for example, will allow computer science educators the same level of access to professional development opportunities as teachers in other subject areas such as science and math. (Wall Street Journal)

(see also The Case for Computer Science)

These are the two main points I saw as I scanned multiple news outlets’ headlines – there may be more. You can read the full details here (it’s only 1,068 pages). #HappyReading

The Case for Computer Science

IMG_4199-0This morning Martin Armstrong released a post titled, “Most Schools Do Not Teach Computer Science.” After hearing a few years ago that some schools don’t even offer Physical Education (PE) any more – better known as play time to kids – I’m not surprised one bit! Do you know what Computer Science is and the benefits? Many people may not know or others may think fixing personal computers is all the field has to offer. Not so my friends! So let’s explore the field a little more, Bri Alys style! (Two of my three degrees, Bachelors Tuskegee and Masters RIT, are in Computer Science so I like to think I have a bit of expertise in this area. I’ve also taught college courses in this space.)

What is Computer Science ? As you can see in the video above, the key theme is PROBLEM SOLVING, followed by the USE OF COMPUTERS (or other technologies) to solve those problems. They both go hand in hand. The field is all about logic, reasoning, rational thinking and creating a solution.

Putting this back in the context of schools, Martin argues, “computer science is probably the most essential qualification next to reading. You can even get a pocket calculator to do your math, and you can have phones read your text messages, but the one skill set that children cannot do without is computer science.” Studying Computer Science trains your brain. It trains you how to think. It trains you to focus on the solution rather than the problem. It trains you to break complex problems down into smaller components and come up with a solution. It teaches you how to think critically. These traits are not just valid for a computer, they are valuable in real life!

The article Martin references in his post points out three problems with kids not studying Computer Science:

  1. First, employers are clamoring for qualified people to fill tech-related jobs.
  2. Second, the lack of computer science in earlier grades also makes it more difficult to attract students into computer science majors in college.
  3. Finally, and perhaps most important, basic education in computer science makes sense for all students—even kids who’ll never earn a living writing software code.

We’ve all read the recent reports about the lack of diversity in the tech field – I’ve written about my own experiences before. Some companies like Intel are upping its referral bonuses to attract diverse tech talent. Couple that with Forbes recently reporting The College Majors With The Highest Starting Salaries. In at #1? Computer Science.


Makes me want to teach again! But for you, it’s never to late to learn. Checkout free online courses from Stanford and edX. Yes, you! Or if you have a kid, get them started early with a Kids Coding magazine.

Chime in for Change


Chime for Change, founded by Gucci, is asking women everywhere to speak up for change all over the world. The kind of change that benefits girls and women everywhere. “Education. Health. Justice. For every girl. Every woman. Everywhere. Because none of us can move forward if half of us are held back.” Pick a cause and donate to hundreds of projects.

I ran across this initiative soon after I read, “6 simple ways to save the world” in the November issue of Marie Claire via NextIssue on my iPad mine.  Seeing some of the solutions people are coming up with to address women’s issues globally is eye-opening. Here are a few relevant highlights:



Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky, Techo-Libeterian. “What is that” you might ask? Well, If you can imagine a politician who’s for “Minimum Government, Maximum Freedom” somewhere in Silicon Valley, then you’ve got the gist of it.

According to The Verge, Paul recently spoke at 2014: Reboot, a conference that tries to draw techies to conservative politics. Much of Paul’s focus was on Education. I’ll spare you the details and share with you a brilliant tweet he posted a few days after his speech:

Sounds great, right? And pretty inspirational, no? But is technology really the answer we need to create a revolution in Education?? Mashable recently published, “The Low-Tech Reason Poor School Districts Fail Standardized Tests.” The conclusion? Stop giving standardized tests that are inextricably tied to specific sets of books.” The reason is because the textbooks are too expensive, so not every child gets one. And since the tests are derived directly from problems that require specific WAYS to answer a question, that may only be understood by reviewing the context, children without textbooks are being set up to fail.

Sure, technology can help; but, just like in Corporate America, Technology is not a silver bullet; it is an enabler. Mr. Paul’s comments are the very types of things people who don’t really know tech think and say: “A new system will fix everything” or maybe, “I’m failing because my IT system is not working properly”. No – YOUR PROCESS IS BROKEN). Until we have TRUE reform of ideas and incentives that align, nothing will change. So what we really need is not politicians calling on average Americans to use their intellect and ingenuity to develop great systems to solve massive problems. Instead, we need politicians to help rally the troops behind proven revolutionary leaders who show thought leadership who are empowered to make REAL CHANGE. Leaders like Dr. Steve Perry. You can’t argue with RESULTS, or maybe you can… #insanity

Unknown-1Perry is the founder and principal of what U.S. News and World Report has cited as one of the top schools in the country, Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. Capital Prep has sent 100% of its predominantly low-income, minority, first generation high school graduates to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006. Dr. Steve Perry is a strong advocate of personal and civic responsibility in all aspects of life. He emphasizes the social issues that aim at building up both the individual and the community so that the next generation can be better contributing members of society.