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Here’s What to Expect from Apple’s Massive Education Event on Thursday

A move like this could make Apple as competitive in the field of education as they were just five years ago.

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According to The Verge, Apple just sent out invitations to an education-focused event in Chicago that will showcase “creative new ideas for teachers and students,” as well as a new “low-cost iPad” priced around $259. Along with the new gear, Apple will also debut its newest education software at the event.

In the era of iPhones, it can be easy to forget that Apple’s roots were actually in the education market; some of their earlier personal computers designed for everyday use were largely distributed to schools. The company is the perfect example of the kind that was so far ahead of the curve in terms of innovation that they were a little blindsided when competitors like Google started to catch up.

Now, as Google’s Chromebook becomes a far more affordable option, the popularity of Apple’s iPad — once the mobile device of choice for classrooms — has waned. In fact, according to Future Source Consulting, Google is now set to secure more than 60 percent of the shipments to schools this year. To combat this, Apple is now aiming to get back on the up-and-up by selling cheaper iPads.

Though The Verge’s report notes that a discounted MacBook was rumored to debut at the event, in all likelihood the focus will stay on the new, discounted iPads. For Apple, the upcoming push back into education will probably make or break the company’s ability to stay hyper-competitive in that market. Apple had to pay out more than $4 million to the Los Angeles Unified School District after their plan to give almost one million students iPads crashed and burned. Administering the iPad was probably a challenge because, on Apple’s list of educational products, the only non-iPad item is an out-of-date Macbook teachers can use to control the tablets.

To fix that, Apple says it will introduce their new ClassKit feature on Thursday. The improvement will allow educators to administer tests and quizzes through the iPads while giving developers more room to create education-based apps for iOS. Google has yet to release a Chromebook with the exact same functionality, although it does makes a vastly cheaper product that still works well enough in the classroom.

This is a big shot for Apple. After all, the company isn’t exactly known for making anything that a normal person would call cheap. If they can really capitalize on this big education push, it might give them the push to making personal products cheaper as well, further driving up their dominance in that space.