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Steve Jobs and Education

Charles BristowAs you have no doubt heard, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs passed away Wednesday. There has and will be plenty written and said about his profound influence on technology, society, and culture. I’d like to explore just a little bit how he has influenced higher education.

Obviously, his influence on technology has made a huge difference in what we can do with our computers. Now, I was never one to get into the hardcore Apple vs PC debate; each had its advantages, and that was that as far as I was concerned. (Some Mac people were just as polarized as some in politics today – Steve Jobs could do no wrong, and Bill Gates could do no right.) That being said, Macs have always been particularly strong in the realm of graphic arts, and there is a program here at ISU in Arts Technology that wouldn’t exist without the advances made by Apple.

How our students learn and communicate with their instructors and peers has also been vastly transformed by the innovative devices created by Apple and Steve Jobs. Think of all the Apple computers that made their way into school computer labs.  They helped introduce today’s students to computers. And that doesn’t even begin to touch on all the educational software and applications made possible.

iPods and iPhones have changed the way students stay in touch with instructors and each other. Mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous, spurred on by the iPod Touch, iPhone, and now the iPad. Each of these devices has become an exemplar in its category, pushing the envelope, and widening their adoption. They have also made it easier for students to stay connected to their schoolwork through mobile apps.

In closing, I’d like to pass on a quote that Rick Martin from Physics shared on the ISU-Teach listserv; I thought it entirely appropriate.

 “The reason we’ve been able to create products like this is because we’ve tried to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts. “

-Steve jobs, January 2010

 Steve Jobs’ innovative design and engineering have transformed our world, and he will be missed.

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