Apple Classroom impacts students and teachers

Ian Gere ’20

In Strake Jesuit’s 2016-2017 school year, students and teachers were introduced to a new app, Mosyle Manager, known to most people as Apple Classroom. The app gives teachers the ability to monitor and even control students’ iPads, including what they view, what apps they can use, and what appears on the students’ screen. Empowering teachers to govern what a student may do on his iPads raises a number of issues about the involvement of this tool in our classrooms.

Who benefits the most from Apple classroom? The argument goes that teachers can make sure students are using their devices properly. Students, on the other hand, benefit from staying on task.

But they could find this iPad monitoring invasive.

Kyle Sherrill ‘20 commented, “It can be good to keep kids in track and to keep kids focused on what is going on in class, but I think it might invade students’ privacy.”

For students who are always on task and never misuse their devices, this monitoring ability could be seen as invasive. Constant monitoring of students in class—even if they never get in trouble—could damage the teacher’s perception of those students. Good and honest students may perceive a teacher as lacking trust in them if he continually monitors them.

Even with such problems, is Apple Classroom still a worthy tool for helping students stay on task?

English teacher Mr. Nurre said, “I teach AC and AP classes, so I think just by the nature of those courses that those kids were usually pretty locked in and pretty on task. I don’t know if it has changed their behavior, but what it has done is let me feel a little more confident and a little bit more willing to use the iPad. But mostly the Manager basically helped us move away from a giant textbook that was expensive and heavy, and now we have a lot of PDFs in the sophomore curriculum, and we can monitor to make sure you’re using the PDFs as opposed to games or something for another class.”

Most teachers who use this app can most likely agree on one thing: Apple Classroom has introduced a sense of clarity that students are actually working when on their iPads. Having a layout where teachers can view their students’ screens can promote the use of iPads in the classroom. Instead of worrying that students are playing games or misusing their iPads, teachers can now fully embrace all the aspects the iPad offers for students.

But is Mosyle Manager vital for every class? Kyle added, “I don’t think it’s essential, but it’s definitely helpful. I think it should be forced on kids who have gotten PH’s for misusing the iPad — or for those who’d like to keep themselves focused in class.”

Mr. Nurre does see benefits for keeping students focused. He noted, “If I give you 45 minutes or 30 minutes to write and work on an essay, I expect you to be taking advantage of that time rather than misusing it. And so having a monitor that you are actually using it, or having it in your mind that I can monitor, it makes those opportunities or time given a lot more fruitful. For other classes outside of English, I don’t know a lot of instruction or diversified instruction as it relates to the iPad, at least I feel like I should do it more, but I generally see the Mosyle Manager as being a good tool, both for faculty and for students.”

With all its benefits, Apple Classroom is likely to have a long life at Strake Jesuit.