Mac computers play a large role in the classroom with education technology, and with the new macOS Catalina, there are now more features to increase student collaboration and enhance the learning experience.
The new macOS Catalina is designed to make using Mac computers, especially in conjunction with iPad devices, a smoother experience for both teachers and students. With new features that allow students to have dual screens that link to their iPad, limits on how much time users can spend on the Mac computer and updates to security, teaching and learning through Apple devices has never been more secure.
In this article, we will take a look at how education technology in the classroom will be significantly improved by the new macOS Catalina and give an in-depth look at some of the best features for student learning, as well as provide details on new features such as Sidecar, Notes, Accessibility and more.
Sidecar is one of the best new features available with macOS Catalina. If your school uses both iPads and Mac computers, students can use the iPad as a second monitor for more screen space with Extended Desktop.
This is a great feature to have when students are working on presentations, so they can use one app and refer to another, or even edit the presentation on the Mac while viewing it in presentation mode on the iPad. In addition to Extended Desktop, Mirrored Desktop is also available, so that you can view a presentation or document on more than one screen.
Apple Pencil has been added to be used with apps on Mac computers that support drawing. Students will be able to write as naturally as they would on paper, as well as edit photos for projects. There’s also a new Touch Bar, which you can use through the iPad, even if the Mac computer doesn’t have Touch Bar enabled.
With Sidebar, students can create shortcuts within apps, so if they use one control consistently, such as Undo or Copy and Paste, it can be displayed on the bar at all times. They can also choose to hide the bar or keyboard if it is not being used.
Notes has been upgraded to feature things like Gallery View, where you can display notes as thumbnails to make it easier to find the note you want, and Shared Folders, in which students can collaborate on an entire folder. This is especially useful for group projects, since the students within the group can work on different sections at once and add notes or attachments from their individual devices.
There is also the option to send the folder as a View-Only collaboration, so that if the teacher is the one sending instructions or documents, they are the only ones who can make changes to the Note or Folder.
Enhanced Accessibility features will change the way users interact with their Mac computers. This is a particularly great addition to Speech Recognition Software that can bring important resources for Special Ed students, who will be able to create and learn at their own pace.
Voice Control has been added to all Apple devices, which improves Enhanced Dictation using Siri, and On-Device Processing that happens right on the device to ensure personal data is safe. Users can also use new Navigation Commands to open apps and browse through them using the commands, search Safari and access folders, buttons and more.
If students need to write a speech, paper or add text to a project while working on the graphics, editing with Voice Control is essential to those with difficulty reading or writing. Students can add custom words, so that commonly used words are instantly recognizable.
If a teacher is writing up a lesson plan using Voice Control and they make a mistake, they can replace an entire phrase simply by saying “Replace” and the sentence they need to edit. They can also even move sentences around the document or capitalize words, and even replace a word by asking to correct it and receive a list of synonyms.
Hover Text and Zoom Display will revolutionize how users look at documents and projects. Students can use Hover Text to zoom into text and buttons in one window to help focus on a specific part of their writing. They can use Zoom Display in conjunction with Extended Desktop to see their projects with a normal display and a zoomed in one simultaneously.
With the fast pace that technology develops, security is constantly being updated. This is great for K-12 Schools that has EdTech programs, since there are always malware and threats from the internet, so the students data will always be protected with powerful security features. Enhanced Gatekeeper is a new feature that will ensure that any app that’s installed on your Mac computer have been checked for any possible issues by Apple, both the first time you use the app and every time after.
Another great update is Data Protections. Before allowing any app to access a student or teacher’s data, the operating system will check with the user to see if the access is allowed. This is extremely useful for students and teachers who use Documents for essays or projects, or allow downloads to the device either from Safari or an outside source such as a USB drive. Users will also be asked if it will be allowed to take a screenshot or video recording of their screen before doing so.
macOS Catalina now supports User Enrollment, which is designed for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs. This ensures user privacy, so that when students bring their own Mac computers from home, their personal information cannot be accessed or viewed by the IT administrator even though they are installing apps and configuring accounts on the device. With this option, students can access the Enrollment URL through Safari and use their Managed Apple ID to login to their Mac.
Another important device management capability made available with macOS Catalina 10.15 is the Allowed Bootstrap Token that makes logging in to Mac computers for the first time easier than ever while ensuring the security of the device. Without this option, users had to enter an administrator's credentials with Secure Token to enable Filevault and other security configurations when logging into the device for the first time. Now, this step is eliminated when a network user creates a Mobile Account on a Mac computer with an encrypted volume. This feature is easily configured with the help of an MDM solution.
Activation Lock is also available with macOS Catalina, which does not allow anyone but the user to erase all content and reactivate their Mac computers if it is ever misplaced. You can sign into iCloud or use Find My to locate your missing device, lock it or even erase all of the data. This feature is only available for Mac computers with the Apple T2 Security Chip.
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