recently watched Charlie Rose interview Bill Gates. While this entire 60–Minutes piece was interesting, the 60 minutes overtime piece (on the 60 minutes iPad App) on Gates’ last visit with Steve Jobs stood out. Among the various topics the duo discussed and examined together in their final visit, Jobs and Gates talked about their successes and their failures. Steve Jobs reflected one deep regret– the regret that neither of them succeeded in transforming the sphere of Education. Something that Gates agreed with. As someone who has been involved in Apple Education programs over the last several decades, this is a regret I share. Sadly, after Jobs’ passing, I fear we have missed an historic opportunity. In retrospect, it seems that iBook Author was Jobs’ stab at innovation in education. Though, it is not clear what his larger vision was, releasing iBook Author was meant to be the first step toward creating this brave new world. Regrettably, without Steve Jobs leading the charge, the iBook Author project appears to have lost steam. Today, iBook Author is just another creativity/productivity tool that Apple offers– and seemingly nothing else.
Our company exhibited at two National Education conferences this past fall– Neither of which enjoyed any Apple presence. Afterwards, I wrote to Apple leadership and suggested a more active presence in the future. My proposal received a muddled response. My great fear is that without Steve Jobs there is no one else on the technology landscape to pick up the baton of “educational change”. I saw the Gates interview and marveled at the wonderful work he is doing. Here, a man who, in our youths was far from one of my favorite people, and now is one of the individuals I admire most in the world. However, for all of his tremendous work, Bill Gates is unlikely to come up with and evangelize for a transformative vision of the future of Education.
Last night I enjoyed watching parts of the Google I/O Conference. It was very impressive. However, I came away from it with two “take-aways” regarding Google and Education. First, from a business perspective, I was impressed with Google’s new education efforts– in which our company,MultiEducator, certainly plans to participate. Second, this new initiative is a good business move by Google, and not an effort to remake education. On one hand, listening to the Q&A session led by Larry Page I was struck by his vision for the future of computing. On the other hand, when he was asked questions about Education, Page responded primarily with platitudes, and extremely little vision.
Unfortunately, I fear that with Jobs’ tragically early passing we missed a unique opening– an opportunity that can only arise through the confluence of a man with insanely great vision, leading the richest company in the world. The possibilities were endless… But alas, there was only one Steve Jobs.