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Schools in The Apple Revolution: The User Experience

Tomorrow's schools will look drastically different from today, and a significant amount of credit is owed to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but maybe not in the way you think.

Increasingly, classrooms are now equipped with iPads, iPods, and MacBooks. Teachers can individualize lessons, engage students, and flip the classroom with one-to-one devices. These specific devices, in and of themselves, however, will not transform education, but rather it is the concept behind them that will.

Apple's focus on the user experience has created a world where technology is not only accessible for the average non-techy person, but it is also fun, engaging, and mesmerizing. Computers were no longer about the developer, about his desires, his interests. This paradigm shift meant developers now focused entirely on the consumer, on using technology to create an "experience" for the user. Steve Jobs' advice:

  Start with the experience and work backwards to create the technology. 

Translating Jobs' words into school-speak: Start with the experience and work backwards to create the lesson. Online learning is beginning to permeate education. K-12 schools are offered entirely online and Tier 1 universities are conferring reputable degrees in both common and obscure fields. Traditional schools are rapidly increasing the number of minutes that students learn digitally.

It all started with: Where can we take the customer?

The result is that educators now have the opportunity to customize the experience for the learner. Like a video game, learners can choose the world they want to explore. Students can work at their own pace, and when they struggle with a concept, they can easily find support embedded into their curriculum. In today's schools, teachers present lessons in different ways to reach different types of learners. One day students may play multiplication hop-scotch and the next they may listen to multiplication hip-hop. This is good teaching because it reaches different learners, but it also means students spend a significant amount of time in an environment opposite to their learning style.

What if we could design a program that allowed students to choose their best learning mode? Learners could explore different options and decide for themselves their preferred method of learning. In the Apple-inspired education world, they can. A learner can further customize each lesson by choosing from videos, printed resources, and interactive activities. Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences could develop spontaneously, as learners discover their own strengths, weaknesses, and forms of intelligence.

Could we design schools that are as enticing for American children as the iPhone5? 

Could we design schools by starting with the student's experience?


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