Enabling Student Success

Apple and Higher Education



For more than 40 years, Apple has focused on creating and building products that support education. Quite simply, education is part of our DNA, and it’s a core value that we care about deeply and view as a basic human right.

We work with higher education leaders across the globe to learn what they care about most and to exchange ideas on how technology can help them achieve their missions and support their goals. We’ve learned that higher education leaders are increasingly focused on “student success” as the foundation of their strategic vision. And most are defining success holistically to include both personal and academic growth, with the goal of preparing students for their future careers and life journey.

Today’s higher education leaders recognize the importance of providing equitable access to the tools and resources that are critical to enabling this success for every student. This has become even more important—yet even more challenging—with the rise of hybrid and online learning environments.

Against this backdrop, many higher education leaders are developing strategic initiatives centered on providing Apple products to all students and faculty to ensure equitable access to cutting-edge tools that support a holistic approach to student success. This document is intended for higher education leaders who are interested in exploring how Apple products can help them create amazing experiences focused on student success in a hybrid learning environment.


Defining student success

Most higher education institutions define success based on the goal of ensuring that students graduate and are well prepared for life. Outcomes and indicators of this success could include student retention, educational attainment, academic achievement, and holistic development, which are key focus areas for intellectual, emotional, social, ethical, physical, and spiritual development.

Achieving this holistic success requires supporting students both personally and academically. This is challenging under typical circumstances, and even more difficult in a world where the modern campus experience includes both in-person and online environments.

To achieve these goals, many universities are providing Apple devices—such as Mac and iPad—to all students to ensure equitable access to the latest tools and resources that support both academic and personal success for everyone.


Giving faculty the tools for success

We believe that cutting-edge technology in higher education makes it easier for institutions to execute their academic vision of success. We’re seeing colleges and universities use Apple products to build seamless technology-based communities that help eliminate barriers between students, faculty, and staff. This makes it much easier for faculty and staff to do what they do best—teach, innovate, and inspire—right from their desks on campus, at home, on the go, or wherever they might be.

Apple technology empowers faculty and staff with the best tools to do their best work. Here’s why:

Productivity. Mac and iPad are compatible with all the apps and workflows that faculty and staff depend on every day, beginning with built-in apps—like Pages, Keynote, iMovie, Mail, Calendar, Notes, Reminders, and Messages—and extending to third-party apps—such as Google Docs, Microsoft Office, Canvas, Dropbox, and the entire Adobe Creative Suite. These apps and software are not only the foundation of many great course and project materials for higher education, but also the same tools that many students will use in their future careers.

Compatibility. Apple products are great for classrooms, lecture halls, study areas, and more. With AirPlay, educators and students can quickly connect an Apple device to Apple TV wirelessly, turning classrooms and lecture halls into vibrant and engaging learning spaces. And for online learning environments, the ability to share screens and see student faces in stunning high definition makes the transition to virtual classrooms seamless and more personal.

Research. Apple products are also powerful tools for conducting cutting-edge research, including collecting data, performing advanced analytics, and designing solutions to some of the world’s greatest challenges. From experimenting with innovative ways to grow food to researching some of the world’s most challenging diseases, higher education faculty are using Apple technology and apps to drive change that positively impacts people’s lives.


Delivering great student experiences

College is a self-directed journey of discovery for students—for how they learn, who they want to be, and what they’re capable of accomplishing. Apple products are designed to give students everything they need to learn, express their creativity, explore their passions, and create meaningful work.

Apple products are great for students. Here’s why:

They’re powerful enough for any workload. No matter the major, Mac and iPad can more than handle it. They come with the latest high-performance processors and are compatible with the apps professionals across every industry use most.

They work together seamlessly. With hardware and software designed for each other, every Apple device device is intuitive and easy to use. Apple products are great on their own, and using them together allows students to do even more—making it easier for them to stay productive, to capture and organize ideas, and to collaborate with classmates.

They come with built-in Apple apps. Mac and iPad give students everything they need to connect and create—right out of the box. Pages, Numbers, and Keynote help students collaborate with classmates and create beautiful, professional-looking documents. Messages, FaceTime, and Mail help students stay connected with friends on campus and with family back home. And iMovie, GarageBand, and Photos help them express their creativity.

They’re designed to last. The sturdy aluminum unibody designs are sleek, durable, and ready to hold up to the rigors of college life. And they’re backed by world-class support, so students can rest assured that they’re covered if they need it.

They include powerful privacy and security features. Apple takes a comprehensive approach to privacy and security. Our products are engineered to keep personal information safe and to protect students’ privacy by giving them full control over their information.

They’re accessible for everyone. Every Apple product has built-in assistive technology to give all students—including those with vision, hearing, mobility, and learning differences—the opportunity to learn, create, and do what they love. Students can edit a video without using a mouse or trackpad, build a presentation without seeing the screen, and take a perfect group selfie just by hearing how many faces are in the frame.


Building a model for success

The traditional model of expecting individual students to provide their own technology has led to inconsistent and, at times, inequitable experiences.

When a digital initiative places the same Apple products in the hands of all students, institutions can deliver a consistent approach to technology that creates one seamless experience for its entire community. This expands the possibilities for faculty and staff to innovate, build, and deliver consistent learning experiences for all students.

“iPad has become one of our most valuable tools to get us through this unprecedented crisis in higher education,” says Dr. Donna Henry, Chancellor at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise. “With more than 80 percent of our students receiving financial aid, our iPad initiative levels the playing field for our students. Faculty and staff are excited to implement projects that create community, enhance academic engagement and help our students develop technological skills to meet changing workforce demands.”

To get the most out of their initiatives, higher education leaders say they focus their efforts on two main areas:

  • Creating an engaging learning environment
  • Supporting holistic student success

Creating an engaging learning environment

Today, the concept of an engaging learning environment has broadened far beyond the walls of traditional classrooms and lecture halls to include dorms, offices, and even kitchen tables. Faculty who have successfully used technology to build rich, flexible learning environments—whether those are in-person, online, or hybrid environments—have noted the need to retool their pedagogies to make them highly student centered. This means focusing on the student as the end user, and designing content and coursework that best engages students and meets them where they are.

“There’s a big opportunity to develop faculty on how to use technology from a student’s perspective,” says Dr. Nicole Kraft, Associate Professor of Clinical Communication at The Ohio State University. “This way, we can challenge students’ creative brains in a way that’s interesting to them—so they ask questions, make mistakes, and really learn.”

Katrina Carter-Tellison, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lynn University, expands on this sentiment: “With our iPad program, we haven’t changed the curriculum or the readings, but our approach is different. It’s more experiential. Now students are experiencing the readings the way they want to—whether it’s through apps, alternative videos, or explanations by our own faculty. So there are multiple ways for students to understand and comprehend works.”

Colleges and universities that have successfully created engaging learning environments tend to have three key components in common: a robust professional development for faculty, flexible engagement tools, and a focus on continuous innovation.


Robust professional development for faculty

Leading higher education institutions recognize that professional development and training are key to supporting faculty in making the shift to student-centered instructional models. Faculty inevitably have different skill levels, and we’re seeing that successful initiatives include formal professional development to share best practices and provide training on how best to engage students in a variety of settings. Recognizing that instructional approaches may vary by subject matter, course size, engagement modality, and many other factors, training will likely need to factor in considerations such as:

  • Synchronous or asynchronous: Does the content need to be live, or is it suitable for on-demand learning?
  • In-person or online: What are best practices for creating an engaging online learning environment? How can faculty create a seamless transition between in-person and online experiences in a hybrid environment?
  • Class structure: When is it best to pivot between large groups, small groups, and one-to-one settings? How does this impact the optimal instructional model?

Flexible engagement tools

We’re seeing that, in addition to training faculty on how to develop engaging content, successful initiatives also explore new tools to improve the distribution of faculty content and encourage interactive learning experiences. This could include an emphasis on creating more interactive content for asynchronous learning, or just experimenting with more interactive tools for video conferencing and real-time group engagement.

Many of these tools exist within an LMS or third-party apps such as Canvas. Faculty might need to experiment with new tools to discover what works best for different courses, subjects, and individuals.

Focus on continuous innovation

With any initiative, driving innovation in today’s learning environments inspires a mindset of making continuous improvements toward what works best. We’re seeing leading institutions deploy mentorship programs and feedback loops with faculty and students to capture insights, measure impact, and innovate the overall learning experience.


Supporting holistic student success

Although academic success is important in student life, it doesn’t account for the entire college journey. Many nonacademic elements of the campus experience are essential to holistic student success.

At Hiram College, for example, learning extends far beyond the campus as students participate in internships, field research, and service projects. To support this, students receive iPad Pro with a preloaded suite of educational apps, Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard Folio, and a pair of hiking boots. “We’re providing our students with the best learning tools to think critically and creatively,” said Dr. Lori Varlotta, President of Hiram College, ”as well as to embrace, celebrate, and care for the nature that surrounds them.”

Although academic success is important in student life, it doesn’t account for the entire college journey. Many nonacademic elements of the campus experience are essential to holistic student success. At Hiram College, for example, learning extends far beyond the campus as students participate in internships, field research, and service projects. To support this, students receive iPad Pro with a preloaded suite of educational apps, Apple Pencil, Smart Keyboard Folio, and a pair of hiking boots. “We’re providing our students with the best learning tools to think critically and creatively,” said Dr. Lori Varlotta, President of Hiram College, ”as well as to embrace, celebrate, and care for the nature that surrounds them.”

Many leading institutions are solving the challenges of hybrid learning environments by building custom and innovative apps on Apple’s developer platforms—iOS, iPadOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. This allows students and faculty to continue discovering and engaging with all the support services and broader experiences that their campuses have to offer. Some universities outsource the development of these apps to outside companies. Others buy customizable off-the-shelf solutions from companies that specialize in higher education, such as Ready Education and Involvio.

Some universities have taken this a step further and are using their app development centers and internal talent—for example, faculty, staff, and students—to build their own solutions. With Swift, Apple’s easy-to-learn coding language, they’re building robust apps for important campus and community topics, such as mental wellness, food insecurity, and campus security, to name a few.

For example, The Ohio State University provides every student with the opportunity to learn how to solve real-world problems by building apps using Swift. One of their success stories is Ohio State: Wellness, a student-led app design that provides the entire community with a wellness tracker, resources for mental health, and ways to access support immediately.


Communicating your vision

Creating and launching a campus initiative with Apple technology is exciting, and it creates an opportunity to engage your community in a myriad of ways. It gives everyone—from students, faculty, and staff to alumni and your greater community—something to celebrate.

The most successful initiatives we’ve seen are all backed by a strong communications team that works with other offices and departments—such as recruiting and admissions—to share information, announcements, and more. And Apple’s built-in apps—including Pages, Keynote, and Clips—make it easy to collect, create, and share beautiful, professional-looking content. Creating a robust communication strategy keeps the entire university engaged in how your initiative is supporting your institution’s vision, mission, and brand.

Capture and share compelling stories to inspire and celebrate. Use photos, videos, and examples of student and faculty work to tell stories of how your initiative has impacted the lives of your community members in a positive way.

Build awareness broadly through your community and beyond. Include press releases, webinars, email messages, website updates and landing pages, town halls, board meetings, alumni mailings, and more.

Plan to grow and refresh your initiative over time. Support and sustain the initiative—not just at launch, but in an ongoing way that celebrates milestones, exhibits progress, and continues to engage the entire community.


Apple support and resources

We recognize that implementing an institutionwide strategic initiative requires significant work. We have a number of services and resources to help you throughout your journey, including professional learning support, device deployment and management tools, and financial services. Here are just some of the ways we can support you to ensure a successful implementation with Apple products:

Professional learning

Apple Professional Learning Specialists. These educators are uniquely qualified to demonstrate how to best use Apple products for learning and teaching. They coach, mentor, and support teachers in advancing their technology skills with an emphasis on innovation—to engage students in deeper learning.

  • APL Specialists provide leadership and planning support, professional learning plans to match learning goals, research-based strategies for learning with technology, and hands-on instructional coaching and mentoring.
  • Coaching sessions include learning about technology and content resources, cocreating exploratory learning experiences, modeling in-class lessons and collaborative reflection, and recommendations.

Device deployment and management

Apple School Manager. Apple products are designed to make it easy for IT teams to manage, purchase, and distribute them.

  • Apple products can go straight to your users—no system imaging required. With Apple School Manager, users simply open the shrink-wrapped box and connect to the internet, and their devices will auto-enroll in your mobile device management (MDM) system with zero-touch deployment from IT. And after auto-enrollment, users can easily set up their devices by themselves.
  • Apple School Manager makes it easy to buy apps and books in bulk for iPad and Mac. You can search for content, purchase licenses with your education volume discount, and instantly view important information—including all assigned and available licenses—all in one place. Your institution retains app licenses and can easily reassign apps among all your devices and users.
  • Easily send content directly to iPad and Mac with MDM. If your MDM provides a self-service portal, you can allow users to install additional apps and books from a preapproved selection that meets your curriculum goals and your standards for security and privacy.

Apple Professional Services. With the goal of providing excellent support and achieving self-sufficiency, Apple Professional Services helps institutions plan, integrate, and deploy Apple technology through a comprehensive array of offerings. These include in-depth technical services, project management, coaching on device management, assistance with deploying iPad or Mac, or even full-time Apple personnel dedicated to a project.

Financial services

Apple Financial Services. Our Apple Education Finance Program can help you build an affordable financing plan that supports your teaching, learning, and research goals. Discover how to maximize your budget so you can ensure that your students, faculty, and staff all have the same access to the best technology.


Taking action

We’ve always prided ourselves in being a champion of education—in fact, education is part of our DNA and a core value for Apple.

Let us be a resource to connect you with the leaders, faculty, and staff mentioned in this document so that you can have discussions directly with your peers. And please feel free to share relevant parts of this document with your colleagues to begin conversations around creating new initiatives that will help you achieve your goals.

In today’s rapidly changing world, technology remains acutely fundamental to how we learn, connect, communicate, and create. And our goal is to do everything we can to offer the best products, platform, and support to higher education institutions so that they’ll be better equipped to achieve their goals and missions.

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