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Somebody must have forgotten to brief Apple’s (relatively) new retail chief Angela Ahrendts on her employer’s long-standing respect for education.

In a new sales training video shown to Apple Store employees today, Ahrendts reportedly says that students should use their Apple Watches in class before the teachers realize what the device can be used for.

Here’s Mark Gurman writing about the video in 9to5Mac:

Ahrendts told employees that the Apple Watch is “the greatest back to school item this year” as it can be used in the classroom without a teacher seeing, unlike a larger iPhone. “I don’t think the teachers have caught on to the Watch yet,” Ahrendts said, adding that retail staff should tell students to “jump on it before the teachers do.”

Gurman suggests that Ahrendts meant this information to be used by sales staff as a way of moving Watches.

Bad idea.

It’s not hard to think of ways the Watch could be misused in the classroom setting. The Watch might be a very effective vehicle for cheat sheets to be used during exams. One student could send answers to multiple choice questions by drawing numbers and letters on the screen, using the Digital Touch feature. With stealthy enough earphones, a student could listen to music all through class. Emoji messages might fly from Watch to Watch around the room.

Perhaps worst of all, the teacher might look out in the room and see students constantly glancing at their wrists. Even if it’s just a quick glance, the message being sent is that the speaker is boring, or that the listener has something they’d rather be doing.

That’s not learning. That’s just more distraction. More noise. The classroom should be one place that shuts out the noise so that some thinking and learning might happen.

Some schools are already considering a ban on the Watches. Several British universities already have, BuzzFeed reports.

Ironically, Apple has long been a good friend to education. Education is one of just a handful of industries that has shown a decided preference for Apple products, and Apple has benefited from this support during good times and bad. Apple has a special online store that offers “education prices” to college students and their parents, teachers, lecturers, and staff.

So encouraging kids to f*ck around on their Apple Watch during class is very off-message. There must be better ways to sell Watches to back-to-school buyers.


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