What Is Higher Ed's 3.5mm Headphone Jack?


September 7, 2016

Apple senior VP Phil Schiller is getting an appropriate social media roasting for his claim during the Wednesday Apple event that getting rid of 3.5mm headphone jack was an act of “courage”.

Here is what Schiller said:

“The courage to move on, do something new, that betters all of us.."

The digerati don’t seem to be buying Apple’s argument that getting rid of the headphone jack, and moving to Lightning port and $159 wireless headphones, is anything but a clever revenue generating strategy.

Devin Coldewey at TechCrunch opines:

"The avalanche of gobbledygook Schiller unloaded onto the audience while attempting to justify replacing a 50-year-old standard port with a proprietary interface was meaningless. The Lightning port is totally unsuited to sending and receiving audio...Audio is so simple to transmit in high fidelity that it can be done with a wire hanger. Using a powered, high-bandwidth data interface adds nothing but cost and complexity, and the space you save is minimal".

The online kerfuffle about a lack of a headphone jack in the iPhone (and really, don’t we have anything better to worry about), has got me thinking about what we could lose in higher ed to cause similar consternation.

What could higher ed get rid off that would cause the tweeters and the bloggers to turn their gaze away from Cupertino, and toward our leafy campuses and hallowed halls?

What is our 3.5mm headphone jack?

Some nominations:

Syllabi:  What if we got rid of each and every syllabus?  Every instructor would need to use the LMS to explain the logic of the course, and every student would need to go through the LMS course shell to understand how the course is laid out.

Grades:  How much time and mental energy has our campus spent in the past year on grades (the inflating kind).  If Google is no longer looking at grades for their hiring decisions, can the rest of the world be far behind?

SAT/ACT:  What percentage of schools are now test optional?  Is there any evidence that requiring the SAT or ACT results in a higher quality entering class?

Learning Management Systems:  Do we have a list somewhere of every college or university that has left the LMS behind?  Schools that are asking their students to curate their own digital identities with the tools and platforms that are used in the working world?  Would dropping the LMS open up siloed and walled-off digital boxes that mediate so much of postsecondary education?

What else?

Is it actually a useful thought experiment to apply Apple’s 3.5mm headphone jack elimination decision to higher ed?

Or maybe we have been getting rid of things all along:

  • Card catalogs and paper journals from our libraries.
  • Computer labs.
  • All those campus print publications that have migrated to the web?

What else have we jettisoned?

Unlike Apple’s “courageous” decision to get rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack, what would take real courage on our part to leave behind?



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