Apple loves education. If you were a child of the 80s or 90s, there's a good chance your school had a healthy supply of Macs or Apple IIs. In recent years, though, many schools have shifted to cheaper Windows PC vendors like Dell and HP. The iPad has given Apple an avenue back into schools, but the company's big return to schools may come from tomorrow's introduction of the iPad Mini.

Apple made a big push earlier this year with an iBooks textbook event, but that may have just been setting the table for tomorrow. According to a report from Bloomberg, the iPad Mini event will heavily emphasize education. Though the consumer market is still Apple's top priority, there's a lot of financial opportunity in schools, and Tim Cook and company are ready to pounce.

The educational tablet wars are picking up. Amazon is also pitching its Kindle family to secondary and higher education institutions, and many speculate that the recent Microsoft-Nook deal had similar motivations. The tablet market is already one of the most critical races in tech, and the educational market only raises those stakes.

Perfect Fit?

Even cheesy stock classroom photos may soon feature iPad Minis (original: Shutterstock)

The personal, touch-oriented nature of tablets makes them great learning tools for children, and their prices make them a great buy for schools. The San Diego Unified School District agrees: it bought over 25,000 iPad 2's earlier this year, at about US$370 a pop.

Not every school district will spend $10 million on iPads, but the lower-priced iPad Mini could help to cast Apple's educational net a bit wider. With a rumored $329 price tag, a similar discount may let schools buy the smaller devices for around $300 each. That's only a $70 drop from the iPad 2, but when buying thousands of units, it adds up.

We can expect to hear more on this front tomorrow. The smaller iPad is expected to sport a 7.85-inch display, and have a lighter/thinner form factor: perfect for smaller hands. The event should also see the announcements of a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro, and a refreshed iMac and Mac Mini.

Gizmag will have coverage and analysis of the event, continuing to the iPad Mini's (rumored) Nov. 2 launch.

Source: Bloomberg via TUAW