Why the suits at IBM and Apple are going back to school

June 19, 2015, 2:45 PM UTC
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CEDRIC SIMON Nursery school pupils work with tablet computers on March 18, 2013 in Haguenau, northeastern France. AFP PHOTO / FREDERICK FLORIN (Photo credit should read FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by Frederick Florin — AFP/Getty Images

The first rule of bringing computers into the schools—learned the hard way in 40 years of dashed pedagogical hopes—is that nothing really works for kids in a classroom unless you hook the teacher first.

Apple, which should know better, forgot the first rule in Los Angeles. The $1.3 billion worth of iPads it sold the Los Angeles United School District—one for every student—came with teaching materials the school described as half-baked, riddle with errors and lacking lessons. In April the LAUSD threatened to sue unless it got some of its millions back.

Now Apple is trying again, in four new school districts, and it seems to have learned its lesson. This time it’s going back to school with IBM, which knows a thing or two about selling computers to district-size enterprises.

The partnership’s first product, the Student Achievement App, is described as “a dynamic teaching tool that harnesses data analytics to supply educators with actionable intelligence on a per-student basis.” Nothing, so far, for the kids.

“The idea here is we want to stimulate adoption,” IBM’s Alex Kaplan told the Coppell (Texas) Independent School District Board of Trustees on Monday. “We want teachers to want to log on every morning. We want to change their work in such a way that they’re excited to log on and see what’s changed, what’s different … we want that sort of rush of excitement.”

So far it’s just IBM, talking to a client. But according to the Coppell Gazette, Big Blue (or what remains of it) is pitching it to three other districts in Texas, South Carolina and Maryland.

A prototype is reportedly slated for completion this summer, and a working beta in the fall. According to AppleInsider, the analytics will likely be provided on the backend by IBM. The app will run exclusively on Apple hardware. It better be teacher-friendly.

The program is an extension of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS partnership announced last July. The partnership promised to “transform enterprise mobility.”

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.

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