Apple and My Dream EDU WWDC Announcements

Maybe I expect too much from Apple. Each time that I watch a WWDC Keynote I hold out some degree of hope that education will move from the periphery to the core in Apple's strategy. 

June 11, 2012

Maybe I expect too much from Apple. Each time that I watch a WWDC Keynote I hold out some degree of hope that education will move from the periphery to the core in Apple's strategy.  

Apple would probably argue that education is already a key part of the company's portfolio, and point to January 2012 Education event, iTunesU, iBooks Author, and the growing footprint of Apple hardware, software and services at all levels of education.

My response is that Apple has an amazing opportunity in the education worldl, but so far the real potential of Apple to transform learning has gone unrealized.

What do I wish I heard from Tim Cook at Monday's WWDC Keynote?

1. A "Learning Center" for both OS X Mountain Lion and iOS 6 with operating level system integration of learning apps, tools, and content. The "Learning Center" could build on the experience of the "Game Center", have deep integration with iTunesU, and serve as a platform to accelerate new EDU apps that work seamlessly with mobile and laptop/desktop operating systems.

2. A significant partnership with and investment in open learning resources, including open online courses. Apple announced all sorts of partnerships at WWDC with Facebook and Twitter and Yelp. Why not a strong (non-exclusive) partnership with edX, or Coursera or Udacity?     

3. Announcing partnerships with existing learning platform providers. Do the Blackboard folks and Apple folks ever hang out? Could they do something really interesting with mobile technology and full iOS integration with mobile learning platforms, just as Twitter has done. (And Blackboard is positioned to do this with the company's new service model of Moodle, Sakai, and Blackboard options). Or maybe someone from Instructure or D2L is somehow close with someone at Apple?  What about about a lecture capture provider - or an educational publisher? What sort of partnerships would it take for education platforms and services to make it into the core OS of Apple's laptop and mobile products, and to be as deeply integrated (i.e.Siri integrated) as maps and social networks?

4. An Apple LMS (learning management system). Okay, maybe I should finally give this up. How long have we been fantasizing about the elegant LMS that could one day come out of Cupertino? An LMS that was built for iOS 6 and OS X from the ground up?  But why is this idea so crazy?   Apple could decide to invest resources in partnering with the open source learning platform efforts coming out of edX. A full blown learning platform would tie together Apple's growing cloud based services, content (through iTunesU), and hardware devices. If Apple is willing to do build a maps platform, why not a learning platform?

What I want is an education person in Apple's top leadership. Someone who can speak for education as the growth business of the 21st century as plans for entertainment, gaming, collaboration, and communication products and services are being discussed. Of course, I want this education person to also be at Google's and Microsoft's and Amazon's (and yes even Facebook's) strategic tables. 

There is a huge opportunity to be first in making education a central element of the long-term strategy of any of these companies. Who will go first?

Thought experiment. You have Tim Cook alone in an elevator. What's your pitch?


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