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Educational Technology Lessons from Steve Jobs

A New Teacher’s Classroom Walls

When I first entered the classroom as an elementary school technology teacher in 1997, I was given a set of posters. As any new teacher would be, I was happy to have some posters to decorate my classroom.

Would they be pictures of computers? of technology? Great!
Would they be instructions? Directions for students? Wonderful!

The posters I found in the box were none of those things.
Instead they were photos of various innovators, thinkers, doers. Einstein, Ghandi,  Jim Henson. It was not what was expecting but I selected some and put them on my classroom walls. Over time, during that first year of teaching,  I got the message.

Think Different.

As it turned out, the posters were part of Apple’s 1997 campaign called Think Different. Posters were sent to schools everywhere.

As a leader in the technology industry, Jobs pushed for more, for better.  With normal market competition in place, innovation was the goal for not just Apple but for all.

It could be said that this drive impacted the whole industry.

New discoveries come from many companies, and many sectors each and every day. Netbooks, tablets, smart phones all have arisen from a drive for improvement that each of us benefits from in some way.

Below is a checklist of lessons for Educational Technology. This is the list I created. What would you add?

Checklist for EdTech from Steve Jobs

  1. Plan far ahead – Think beyond what is needed now. Be creative. Imagine what is possible. Plan. Dream.
  2. Make the technology matter – Figure out how to use the power of technology to truly make a difference in the lives of children, teachers. Research and apply.
  3. Keep it simple – Technology does not have to be complex to advance the work your students do.
  4. Focus – Adding more and more technology intensive initiatives can be counterproductive. Focus on what is best for teachers and students and implement it well. Don’t skimp on professional learning time and collaboration time for teachers.
  5. Gather Input – Ask people what they need.  Find out how can you help them.  Use the feedback to improve what is offered. Better still – anticipate their needs.
  6. Get your best people involved – Find out who is interested in exploring new uses of technology for learning, for connecting. Empower them with the time and tools to share and do more. Encourage positive teamwork.
  7. Persevere – You may not see the results you expect right away. Stick with it. We are preparing students for their future. Technology is interwoven in much of what we do today and our students need to be prepared to learn and work with the right tools and the right mindset for connected learning.
  8. Believe – In a world of rapid change, we can’t predict exactly where we are going or what change will be brought into our classrooms via technology. Believe that by teaching our children to critically explore and evaluate new forms of learning, we are preparing them for an enlightening future which is unwritten as of yet.

That first computer classroom of mine had a hodge podge of different computers and operating systems. Eventually it had all new pcs with cdroms!

Use the technology you have to do the best you can, advocate strongly for more and above all do use the power of technology with a deliberate and dedicated purpose – to make a difference in the education, the lives of your teachers and students.


This is cross posted on School CIO published by Tech and Learning Magazine

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