2011: What mattered in Educational Technology

We have about an hour before the calendar flips to read 2012 for the next twelve months, and after we arrived at home after an evening with my wife’s family (we have a twelve year old and a three year old, so we don’t wait for the clock to switch) and put my little boy to bed, saying our nightly prayers and thanking God for a good 2011, and asking for a better 2012, I thought, “What was the big moment in educational technology in 2011?”

The answer seems clear to me: it wasn’t the iPad 2. The iPad 2 had new features and new potential, but for much of 2011, the OS didn’t support those features. It wasn’t the passing of Steve Jobs. The biography of Steve Jobs, towards the end of the book, made some references to plans Steve Jobs had to change education (and textbooks), but nothing of substance. We don’t know if Steve Jobs ever detailed those plans and left them for those who followed.

The big moment in educational technology was iOS 5.

iOS 5 brought new functionality to many devices in the iOS family, including the 3rd & 4th generation iPod Touches, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPad 1 and iPad 2. iOS 5 has also interacted with Mac OS X (Lion) and the Apple TV. The end result is a device that is a true game-changer for education, both for the teacher and the student. Wireless mirroring is a true game-changer for education that schools haven’t even begun to work with. iCloud is currently a bit of a mess (not anything like MobileMe, however) that will mature over time.

2012 will bring challenges, to be sure. There will continued pressure and competition from the vendors whose names are not Apple. Apple will be challenged (by the ravenous press, to be certain) to continue its trend of excellent devices in a post-Jobs era (this will be a huge story at the reveal of the iPad 3 and the iPhone 5). Education will continue to adopt the iPad, some settings in an ideal 1-to-1 situation, other settings where administrators (!) then teachers will be given the devices–basically reinforcing pre-21st century educational skills.

Whatever happens, it’s going to be fun to watch and comment on it. I’m always excited to see what the future will bring.


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