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Making the Grade: Apple Silicon in K-12 represents one of the biggest upgrades since the first laptop

When I purchased the early 2020 MacBook Air, at the time, I said it was the ideal laptop for K-12. In a fashion that only Apple can do, they’ve topped their computer just a few months after its release. After switching to the M1 Apple Silicon MacBook Air a few weeks ago, it’s undoubtedly the best laptop ever built for education.

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About Making The Grade: Every other Saturday, Bradley Chambers publishes a new article about Apple in education. He has been managing Apple devices in an education environment since 2009. Through his experience deploying and managing 100s of Macs and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple’s products work at scale, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for students.

Long battery life

One of the main focuses on anything device related in K-12 is battery life. Unlike people in an office with ample access to power cords. Students cannot often recharge their devices during the day. Whatever battery life they start the day with is what they have to make it through the day. iPads have made it through the day for many years as long as a student isn’t rendering video. Macs, on the other hand, haven’t been near as lucky. In my experience, whatever the battery life is rated at, you’ll get half that in practical usage. Apple rates the M1 MacBook Air at 18 hours of battery life. In my experience, with the kind of work students will do, they’ll easily be able to make it through an entire school day on a single charge. If the battery life alone were the only significant benefit of Apple Silicon, K-12 schools would see substantial benefits.

The long battery life is also going a big plus for teachers. Most teachers aren’t tied to their desks and cannot often charge throughout the day. As they move from class to class, not worrying about their battery life will be one less thing that they need to worry about during their day.


The significant difference on the intel side between the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro is what it’s best handled to do. With the new M1 laptops, the most significant difference between the Air and the Pro is the Touch Bar and the fan. The fan in the MacBook Pro will let it perform at higher speeds for more extended periods. The MacBook Air can now be a laptop for students to work with their learning management system, photo editing, video editing, or whatever else they need in the classroom.

One of the significant changes with education this year is virtual learning for many schools, and lower-powered laptops don’t perform well with multi-person video conference tools. The M1 MacBook Air excels at this task. If any semblance of virtual learning continues in the future, the ability to work well with video conferencing and light video editing will be an excellent addition for teachers.

Wrap up Apple Silicon for schools

In my opinion, Apple Silicon for schools is going to be one of the most important technology changes that we’ve ever seen. With the dramatically higher battery life and massive performance increases, Apple Silicon will provide students and teachers with some of the best laptops for many years to come. The first version will likely be similar to the first Intel Macs, and we will continue to see exciting upgrades in the coming years.

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