Friday 4ALL: Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

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As I’m sure you all heard, Steve Jobs passed away this week. The co-founder and CEO of Apple was considered one of the most innovative leaders in the tech industry, maybe any industry of the last 30 years. Best known for introducing the world to the hugely popular and influential “i-series” of products (iPod/iPhone/iPad/iMac), Jobs had a long career of leading his industry in innovation and possibility.

I don’t know that Jobs deserves some of the saint-like praise he’s receiving from the media and on social networks, but the inspiration his innovations have provided is unmatched. The possibility found in one of his handheld inventions is mind-boggling when compared to where Apple started. Sure, Jobs had a team of people who worked to make his ideas come to fruition, but those people followed his lead.

Where there was nothing or stagnation, Jobs saw possibility. He saw the intersection of the humanities in science and technology. He co-founded and resurrected one of the most successful corporations in history. The industry giant that is Pixar has been able to inspire generations of children thanks to Jobs’ foresight. Again, a whole new world of possibility was opened when iPods were introduced, leading to the iPhone, and eventually the iPad. Without his imagination, innovation, and inspiration, Jobs wouldn’t have developed into the titan he was leading up to his untimely death.

What does this mean for education?

Steve Jobs was the quintessential outside-the-box thinker. His innovations were elegant in that they took what was previously thought possible and went further than anyone could have imagined before. The uses for his innovations go well-beyond their intended purpose. A Steve Jobs invention transcends. I have over 12,000 songs in my pocket. My phone can tell me how to get where I’m going and allow me to answer any question with a few keystrokes. This sort of thinking is needed in education, schools, and classrooms.

So, when you text a friend with your iPhone, watch a movie on your iPod, or settle in to read a book on you iPad, consider how this piece of glass, metal, and plastic can change the world. How the inspiration behind it can inspire us as educators. Use that inspiration to invent new and better ways to do our work. Steve Jobs did that every day.

How have the inventions of Steve Jobs influenced your teaching? What are you doing to nurture the next Steve Jobs in your classroom? How have his innovations affected teaching and learning?

Zac Early is an instructional specialist with the eMINTS National Center and is an avid Apple user.

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