Apple Provides Peak at ClassKit API and Schoolwork for Developing Education Apps

Apple today made a renewed overture for the education market with a new iPad, updated iWork productivity apps, and new platforms for teachers and developers. ClassKit is a fresh set of tools developers can use to take advantage of the Schoolwork app.

Schoolwork is the thrust of the new software announcements from Apple today. The app will be used by teachers and educators in school settings to create assignments, generate handouts, view progress, and more. Apple says teachers can end assignments from web links to PDFs and iWork documents. The idea is to let teachers and students alike tap into the power of education apps on the new Apple Pencil-compatible iPad. That's where developers come in.

Developers will need to use the ClassKit API in order to make their apps functional within Schoolwork. ClassKit encompasses several core features, such as helping teachers discover assignable activities within apps, helping students navigate the apps, and sharing student progress data directly with teachers. Apple has not provided any details concerning the ClassKit API itself.

The starting place is integration. ClassKit brings Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs to iPads being used in schools and other educational environments. This gives school IT admins control over hardware and the ability to create logins used by students on iPads. The Managed Apple IDs are core to helping teachers manage their class rosters and the work turned in by each student.

With these initial tasks handled, developers will then use tools within the ClassKit API to label the content structure of their app so teachers can find and assign actions in Schoolwork. Apple says content might include a hierarchy of math challenges, quizzes, coding concepts, or book chapters. The goal is to make sure that when students tap on an assignment in Schoolwork, they are taken directly to the corresponding content within your app.

The last major key to the Schoolwork puzzle is the ability to report student progress. As students complete their assignments, ClassKit-enabled apps will need to record their progress to teachers so it can be viewed in Schoolwork and assessed by educators. Some factors might include time spent, percentage of assignments completed, scores, and so on.

Apple hopes that "with access to these insights across all of their apps, teachers can tailor instruction to individual student needs and students can take ownership of their learning."

Ready to dig in to Schoolwork? Apple says developers will need the ClassKit API, Xcode 9.4 beta and iOS 11.4 beta -- which aren't available yet -- to create apps for Schoolwork. The Apple School Manager and a beta build of Schoolwork are also necessary for configuration and testing purposes.

Developers who already have education apps being used in schools are being given priority. Apple is asking those developers to reach out and describe their apps in detail in order to gain early access to the ClassKit API. Apple will likely share more details at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.


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