Apple Launches New Learning Coach Program and Features for Educators — THE Journal

Professional Learning

Apple Launches New Learning Coach Program and Features for Educators

Free Program Trains Educators in Coaching Roles to Learn How to Best Help Teachers Maximize ‘Creation, Not Just Consumption’ in the Classroom

Apple today announced the launch of its new Apple Learning Coach professional learning program for educators who coach teachers, to help them get the most out of Apple technology and boost student engagement in the process.

The free program trains instructional technologists, digital learning specialists, and other educators in coaching roles to learn how to best help teachers maximize Apple technology, emphasizing “classroom creation instead of just classroom consumption,” several educators in the pilot program told THE Journal.

Apple Learning Coach includes self-paced lessons and two days of virtual workshops with Apple Professional Learning Specialists, according to the program website.

ALC is open to employees of K–12 schools and districts in the United States who have an iPad and have earned their Apple Teacher recognition, a course in the Apple Teacher Learning Center that teaches foundational skills with Apple technology. Educators wishing to participate in Apple Learning Coach must submit an application and obtain written approval from their school or district administration, Apple said. Applications will be accepted through April 19 for the next ALC program.

The ALC program overview details how participants learn how to coach teachers to creatively integrate technology into learning, using free apps and resources from Apple’s Everyone Can Create guides for teachers; the Everyone Can Create series includes teacher guides for helping students illustrate their learning through creating, using native iPad video, drawing, music, and photography apps.

The ALC program takes an average of 43.5 hours to complete, according to Apple. Four of the ALC program’s six units are self-paced, with units 3 and 4 consisting of two consecutive days of virtual workshops lasting about 6.5 hours each day. A “coaching journal” must be submitted upon completion of each unit; those journals comprise a majority of the participant’s coaching portfolio upon course completion.

The coaching portfolio that ALC graduates leave with is like their own individualized coaching guide appropriate for their district, Apple said: It showcases the educator’s work and results throughout the program, spells out the participant’s coaching philosophy, and includes items such as coaching goals specific to the needs of their school; distinct coaching activities to meet those goals; details on how the success of their coaching efforts will be measured; and a timeline to achieve their coaching goals.

Educators who complete the course can apply for up to 40 hours of continuing education units from Lamar University and may be eligible to receive professional development credits, depending on participants’ district and state policies, according to the ALC website.

The ALC program has earned the International Society for Technology in Education Seal of Alignment, according to its report, also released early today. ISTE said Apple Learning Coach “contributes to the pedagogically robust use of technology for teaching and learning” and said the ALC units “consciously, purposefully and meaningfully support best practices for digital age teaching and learning.” ISTE’s review details the ways in which each ALC unit meets each of ISTE’s standards foundationally and through instructional applications.

Also announced today is a forthcoming Apple Education Community; Apple said it will launch in the fall and serve as a hub for professional learning resources and a collaborative space for educators.

The company also announced that Managed Apple IDs will integrate with Google Workspace, providing directory sync and federated authentication, and it said new updates are coming to Apple’s Classroom and Schoolwork apps. Details on these updates, expected in the spring, will be posted on the Appleseed for IT website, the company said.

ALC Pilot Participants Describe What They Learned

A pilot program of Apple Learning Coach that recently concluded included educators from across the country, several of which spoke with THE Journal about their experiences with the program.

Jessica Keller, one of four educators from the Berkeley County School District in West Virginia to participate in the pilot, said ALC not only showed them how to use iPad technology to dramatically increase student engagement and motivation, but the accessibility functions and personalization options within the Apps also allow teachers to tailor assignments to each student’s needs.

“The iPad has so many built-in accessibility features, for hearing impairment, vision impairment, and so forth; audio recording is also built-in, so a teacher can record their screen to go with their written assignment instructions,” Keller told THE Journal. “Some kids want to type their answers, but some cannot, and they may need to speak or write their answers with the Apple pencil. And when an assignment needs to be tailored to a student with special needs, the other kids don’t have to know their lesson is different. The accommodations within the instructions are already in the app and within the assignment.”

Berkeley County Assistant Director of Instructional Technology Maranda Ralph said that completing the ALC program gave her the “hands-on knowledge and a framework to be able to coach our coaches in their roles of supporting teachers.”

“Our mission is to provide multiple pathways to success, and to give students a voice and a choice in what they’re learning and how they show us what they’re learning,” Ralph said. “It’s not about how they get there, it’s about getting them there. And with the Apple Learning Coach program, we’ve moved our focus to creation, not consumption.”

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