Online Instruction: What would Steve Jobs Do?

I got this in my email today: Russell_Lisa (1). In case you do not click, it is my certification to teach online through Quality Matter standards. I am not sure I will use this, but it was nice to see this come to my mail after a particularly difficulty two weeks both professionally and physically. Whether I am ever able to put this training to work or not, I am a committed evangelist for online instruction – distance learning as some call it.

The following are a series of blogs on my thoughts about distance learning:

 Distance Education: What Would Jobs Do?

“All books, learning materials and assessments should be digital and interactive tailored to each student and provide feedback in real time.” Steve Jobs told President Barak Obama in an airport meeting. After Jobs told President Obama that he was headed for a one-term presidency, he laid out his view of how education must change (Isaacson, Ch 51). Jobs was struggling with the cancer that would end his life in early October 2012, while plodding his next conquest.

Jobs wanted to, “ . . .disrupt the textbook industry and save the spines of spavin students bearing the backpacks by creating electronic text and curriculum materials for iPad” (Isaacson, Ch. 51). He was not alone. Bill Gates visited his old rival Jobs one last time in 2011. The

wealthy and prematurely retired innovators looked back over their asynchronous success with a longing to do more for education. Gates agreed with Jobs when he said, “Computers have made surprisingly little impact on schools unlike other industries like media, medicine and the law. For that to change, computers and mobile devices will have to focus on delivering more personal lessons and provide motivational feedback” (Isaacson, Ch. 51).

Given time, I wonder if Steve Jobs might have had the same effect on higher education and distance learning as he had on the music industry and mobile phones? What innovation would have displaced the misconceptions of distance education? Considering how Jobs’ unsettling genius remodeled the movie, music, media, and mobile industries, what would Jobs do with online learning?

While there are concerns about distance education, we do not want to miss the potential and possibilities. Beyond the myths and the fallacies fueled by regulation and hubris from the academe, there is a new frontier emerging in higher education. We are standing at the crossroads of the humanities and the digital.



 Works Cited

“6 Online Learning Trends.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B20-21. Print.

Allen, J. Elaine. “Going the Distance: Online Education in the United States, 2011 | The Sloan Consortium®.” The Sloan Consortium® | Individuals, Institutions and Organizations Committed to Quality Online Education. Babson Survey Research Group Babson College, 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.

Bunge, Nancy. “Why I No Longer Teach Online.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B36. Print.

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 49.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 51.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 52.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Isaacson, Walter. “Chapter 54.” Steve Jobs. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011. Print. Audio Book

Kelderman, Eric. “Oversight on the Rise.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. Nov (2011): B4-B5. Print.

Mendenhall, Robert W. “How Technology Can Improve Online Learning – and Learning in General.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 11th ser. 11 (2011): B23-25. Print.

Mims, J. “The Term “Digital Natives” –” Own Local – A Newspaper & Local Market Software Company. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.

Parry, Marc. “Online-Course Enrollments Grow, but at a Slower Pace. Is a Plateau Approaching? – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.” Home – The Chronicle of Higher Education. 9 Nov. 2011. Web. 07 Dec. 2011. <>.

Parry, Marc. “Preventing Online Dropouts: Does Anything Work?” Wired Campus. The Chronicles of Higher Education, 22 Sept. 2010. Web. 7 Dec. 2011. <>

Prensky, Mark. “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants.” On the Horizon 9.5 (2001): 1-6. Print.

Prensky, Mark. “Digital Natives Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently?” On the Horizon 9.6 (2001): 1-9. 2001. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <,_Digital_Immigrants_-_Part2.pdf, p. 1%u20139.>.

Prensky, Mark. “H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom.” Journal of Online Education (2009): 5. Web.

Rich Rice. Texas Tech University PhD. Program. Web. 5 Dec. 2011. <>. Podcast introducing Dr. Rice to explain his research interests.

“The Blackboard.” Web page. MEAPA. 5 Dec. 2011. Web.


*Steve Jobs often used this phrase when he was introducing the iPod, iPad, the iPhone, and other innovations. He always saved the best for last and introduced it by saying, “And that’s not all . . .”

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