When you think mobile learning you think smartphones and tablet computing. While mobile devices of all kinds have played an important role in the discussion of learning on the go, it can honestly be said that the availability of educational apps, and a computer-like interface, gave mobile learning the required push it needed to move from concept to classrooms.
“Every once in a while a revolutionary product comes along that changes everything. … One is very fortunate if you get to work on just one of these in your career. Apple’s been very fortunate it’s been able to introduce a few of these into the world.”
Steve Jobs (2007)
Apple founder Steve Jobs was the man on stage to announce the arrival of the iPhone and with it, he also ushered in the industry of smartphone apps. iTunes alone now sells over 500,000 apps. Schools have already started implementing mobile learning pilots using iPhones and educational apps, to extend student’s learning environment and engage them on the devices “that are just cool to use”.
Duke University began to use mobile devices to access symposiums, class material, and school news through iTunes. The program, called iTunesU was started by Apple in 2007, and enabled faculty and students to create and carry course material with them on their iPods, another Apple product. iTunesU is now used by several institutes including MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley offering access to courses, faculty lectures, interviews and more.
And then came the iPad.
Suddenly across US and the rest of the world, universities and schools began to see the iPad as the device that would take classroom education into the digital era.
According to CIO Today, over 2,300 K-12 school districts have implemented iPad programs, including schools in the New York City, Chicago, Arlington, Va, and Manatee County, Fla. More than 600 K-12 schools have launched one-to-one iPad programs in which at minimum, schools are providing an entire classroom of students with their own iPads to use throughout their academic school day.
While the Macintosh was always a popular school computer choice, the iPad became a game changer. Educators in particular, feel that tablets will change education because they dovetail with the goals and purposes of education in the digital age. In the third quarter of 2011, iPad sales to the K-12 market surpassed all of Apple’s educational Mac desktop and laptop computer sales combined.
“Last quarter, we sold more iPads in K-12 than we did Macs. To do that in just five quarters is absolutely shocking. We never would have predicted this.” Tim Cook (2011)
What Steve Jobs did for Apple is synonymous with what Steve Jobs did for mobile learning. He charmed, pushed, cajoled, and bullied the way so that other products and ideas could follow. Today mobile learning has moved from the crossroads to the implementation stage, and those of us in this field of educational technology have a big “Thank you” to say to the man whose destiny helped put a learning device in the hands of every student.