Apple sets sights on the classroom with latest acquisition

In a post earlier this month, we noted that Apple's next iOS update would feature new tools to help optimize iPads for classroom use. Now, Cupertino is showing continued commitment to its vision for iOS-based education, acquiring education-tech startup LearnSprout in an apparent effort to boost its classroom offerings, as initially reported by Bloomberg.

As expected, an Apple spokesperson gave the company's standard response to Bloomberg's request for comment, "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans." However, taking a look at LearnSprout's current offerings could give us a hint at what Apple has in mind.

LearnSprout's software gives educators access to valuable learning data in real time, combining test results, course grades and attendance records to provide teachers with insights they can use to enact change on a daily basis. According to the company's website, the LearnSprout is already used by more than 2,500 schools in 42 states. While the software has traditionally been marketed to PC and Mac users, Apple's recent involvement would suggest the technology will make its way to the educational tools making their debut for iPad in iOS 9.3.

Apple's forthcoming point release will for the first time feature multi-user support for iPad, allowing students to log into any Apple tablet and get instant access to their apps, books and documents. It will also introduce a new "Classroom" app, which will enable teachers to control all student iPads in a class, launching specific apps (sections of a book, topical videos, etc.) simultaneously and even monitor individual students' activity during class time. Plus, an all new "Apple School Manager" hub will serve as a dashboard in which teachers can manage their courses and purchase class books and apps.

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