Warning: This is a rare post for me as I don’t often like to do op-eds. But there was just something about today’s Apple announcement that struck me. I encourage you to read through my whole post and share your thoughts. I’ll be sure to respond and discuss. Thanks in advance. -Jeff
It’s no secret that Apple wants to have a massive presence in the education space. Most big companies do and there’s a reason for that: it’s basically an untapped market. Education technology is still in its infancy and companies like Apple and Google are charting the course with new devices like the iPad Mini.
Or are they? Read on for my take on who is really in charge of education technology’s future.
Honestly, it seems like the big media outlets are the biggest cheerleaders of the smaller iPad. Journalists even clapped at the event. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of teachers and others taking to Twitter to say how thrilled they are. But something just seems less … exciting. The iPad Mini came as no surprise and is not as cheap as it needs to be to make a major impact in education. I think the education world knows that and that’s why my Twitter stream is not filled with gushing Apple fans.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big Apple fan. Not ashamed of it. But the iPad Mini announcement sorta fell flat on Twitter. Maybe the ever-increasing expectations from an Apple keynote just became too much? Apple literally unveiled a new product, new iPad version, new Macbook Pro, new iMac, and an upgrade to iBooks. You’d think this would be world-changing news. But instead, it just doesn’t feel like a big deal. My friend David of @humbledaisy put it best with the following tweet:
Educators Are In The Driver’s Seat
So the iPad Mini and all the other Apple goodies are exciting and all that. But it feels like the education technology market officially hit its date of maturity today. That’s because a new device from Apple didn’t make everyone go as bonkers as when the original iPad or iPhone came out. Will the iPad Mini be wildly successful and will the iPad continue to explode in usage? Yes. Will other pieces of tech keep coming out? Yes.
The question now is how the education world responds. Will we all act like fanboys or will we start viewing each product release and incremental upgrade as just another thing to keep track of but not lose our heads over? After all, no school district can deploy every version of every device as it’s upgraded. It seems like schools are starting to seriously think about just how much technology they need and how to best put it to use.
Teachers, admins, parents, and students are truly in the driver’s seat of education technology. That is perhaps one of the most exciting parts about the current edtech evolution happening. From online courses to K-12 project-based learning classrooms, technology is usually involved and, until now, has been sort of like cramming a round peg into a square hole.
Now that education is dictating the evolution of technology products, we can all start actually asking for what we want.
How I’d Change The iPad
For example, I’d make a few changes to the iPad Mini, iPad, and other tablets right now. They’d be:
1) Make it more durable. Please let us have something that can be dropped, grabbed, tossed, and manhandled.
2) Make it cheaper. Let’s have tablets that have just the features we want to use in the classroom. Do we need the Cadillac of tablets to just have an e-reader? Not really. Do we need a 1,000,000 gigapixel (not a real term I don’t think) camera to take some fun photos of students? Probably not.
3) Make it simpler. I’m not talking about usability. Tablets are designed to be simple. But how do you actually find the best app you’re looking for? It’s downright impossible with the influx of education (and other) apps. If it were simpler to operate, schools would be able to surface the best apps for them without much hassle.
This is one of the first times I’ve truly felt like the world of education is in the driver’s seat of major worldwide technology development. If enough teachers ask for something, a company or startup will make it. If enough students demand a feature on a device, the manufacturer will likely add it.
So, what will you do with your newfound power? How would you change the iPad or other popular edtech products? I’d truly love to hear your thoughts!