CPD: Why I am a fan of Apple Teacher

I’ve (unfortunately) somewhat neglected my blog over the past 12 months or so. I decided at the start of 2017 to start writing posts here again, but couldn’t quite think where to start. Then Apple Teacher came along and it felt like an opportune moment to get back to the blogging!

What is Apple Teacher?
Apple Teacher launched in the U.K. Last week, following its initial roll out in the USA in September 2016. It is a free CPD programme, aimed at educators who are using Apple products in their classrooms. It is designed to support teachers, develop their skills in using Apple devices and reward them for their achievements.

Currently, Apple Teacher is available in the following countries:

– Australia
– Denmark
– Hong Kong
– Ireland
– Mexico
– New Zealand
– Netherlands
– Singapore
– Sweden
– United Kingdom
– United States

How does Apple Teacher work?
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Getting involved with Apple Teacher is easy: all you need is to sign in to the Apple Teacher Learning Centre with an Apple ID.

Once teachers have signed up, they have access to a self-paced CPD programme aimed at both iPad and Mac users. Currently, there are 8 badges available for each device:

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Each badge features a range of resources to support teachers in achieving their badges. Once users feel they are ready, they can attempt to earn their badge in each discipline, by completing a 5 question quiz. Once teachers have completed all 8 badges for either iPad or Mac, they will earn recognition as an Apple Teacher.

What makes Apple Teacher so good?
In my opinion, there are a range of reasons as to why Apple Teacher is a fantastic CPD tool. Firstly, it’s self paced nature means it is accessible for all. Whether you consider yourself an iPad expert or a complete novice, Apple Teacher can help. There are no deadlines to meet, so you can either choose to complete all of your badges at once or take your time and collect them when you feel ready. Teachers may want to consider completing the badges in the areas they feel most confident first, or alternatively, set yourself a target of achieving a new badge each month (or longer if needed)!

Secondly, each badge comes bundled with a range of resources to support teachers looking to achieve their badges. Each eBook features an array of interactive content and feature not only the basic features of each app, but also tips or tricks to help power users. The guides are tailored specifically for education users, meaning they are also packed with ideas about how Apple products can be used in lessons to support teaching and learning.

Finally, it is completely free! In a time of ever increasing budget cuts (at least here in the U.K.), freely available CPD is a godsend. A whole teaching staff body in a school, could complete a CPD programme that will build their skills in using iPad/Mac without spending a penny! Fellow ADE, Alan Frame (@HeadDownEyesUp), recently had all his staff complete their badges after a last minute cancellation of a guest speaker on an inset day. That’s a win!

What’s next for Apple Teacher?
As is always the case with anything Apple related, there will be speculation about where Apple Teacher goes from here. Since its initial launch, Apple Teacher badges for Swift Playgrounds have been added, hinting that other badges may be available to complete in the future. Personally, I feel that this is essential to continue the momentum the programme has already gathered and to further challege those who have already completeted the badges currently available. I would love to see badges available for tools such as iTunes U, iBooks Author and Classroom app, as these are becoming increasingly important in any 1:1 iPad deployment. Alternatively, there could be additional badges added for education specific topics, for example assessment or deployment. I believe that this would be effective as it would give teachers the opportunity to develop more specialised abilities, as opposed to generic iPad/Mac specific skills.

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