Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the company’s focus on boosting education opportunities for students through cutting-edge ed tech.
In an interview with ABC America, Cook reiterated that Apple is part of ConnectED, a White House program that aims to link 99% of all American students to high-speed Internet by 2018. Other private corporations involved in this project include Microsoft and Verizon.
In his interview to Good Morning America, Cook said about Apple’s objective:
“I think technology has to be a key part [of education] and that’s why we’re here,” Cook said. “Too many times today kids aren’t given the right for a great public education and this isn’t right. It’s not fair. I wouldn’t be where I am today without a great public education.”
Cook emphasized in his interview how disparate student experience with technology is at home and at school, making a claim that the analog learning experience in many schools is the reason why students are uninterested in education:
“Kids today, they’re born in a digital world, but too many kids, when it comes time for the 8 o’clock bell to ring, go to an analog world,” he said. “It’s not engaging.”
A Tuskegee Public School teacher said about the high speed Internet that schools get thanks to the ConnectED initiative:
“It means a lot to me, because you can do a lot at a faster rate. It’s hands-on with everything in them … Last year we didn’t have that. But this is day seven, eight, and we did a whole lot.”
ConnectED was announced in 2013. The program’s success can be measured by looking at the number of students that engage with learning and the number of students that decide to move onto higher education, Cook explained to Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts. Asked what students newly introduced to iPads should do with their devices, Cook encouraged them to:
“Explore, discover, create”.
The interview with Roberts was pre-recorded and interspersed with scenes of teachers and students using iPads to learn about the post-Civil War reconstruction period.
In the brief interview, Cook was also asked about the lack of diversity in Apple and the tech industry as a whole. Cook admitted that the tech industry is still lagging in terms of establishing role models, something he considers to be of critical importance. As he told Roberts, diversity matters because “inclusion and diversity inspires innovation. And so we actually make better products because we’re more diverse.”
In the fall of 2014, Apple contributed $100 million to ConnectEd in the form of Macs, iPads and other Apple tools. The Tuskegee Public School in Alabama is among 114 schools across 29 states that are receiving iPads for the new school year.