Stanford's open courses raise questions about true value of elite education | Inside Higher Ed

Stanford's open courses raise questions about true value of elite education | Inside Higher Ed


Co-founder of Apple - Steve Jobs - has passed away

The co-founder and Chairman of Apple Steve Jobs died today.  He was 56.

This is a great loss to the IT industry and a great loss to all the users who have been touched by the changes that Steve was responsible - changes not only in technology but also in how it can best be used to serve the end user.  As Obama said: "Steve was among the greatest of American innovators - brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.

Steve's philosophy of the business of IT is summed up in his strategy and vision for Apple, i.e., "to start with: 'What incredible benefits can we give the customer?' not start with: 'Let's sit down with the engineers, and figure out what awesome technology we have and then figure out how to market that.'"

Here are some memorable videos that trace Steve's ideas over ten years ago.

"Focusing is about saying no" - Steve Jobs (WWDC'97)

Steve Jobs Macworld 1998 Keynote (Part 2)

Looking back at these videos, one can trace the path that Apple took and how it improved the users' experience of computing.  And this was the impact of Steve Job's vision.  A truly visionary leader in the technology industry and in business.  He will be sorely missed.


Can you make a cellphone change the world?

Can you make a cellphone change the world?  This is the description for an innovative course at MIT.  The course - NextLab - is a hands-on year-long design course in which students research, develop and deploy mobile technologies for the next billion mobile users in developing economies.

For too many years, many universities have developed an image of being too distant from real life problems.  This course certainly changes that.   The students work on projects that seek to address real social challenges in areas such as health, microfinance, entrepreneurship, education, and civic activism.

Students addressing real challenges
Students work in multidisciplinary teams on the projects, closely collaborating with NGOs and communities at the local level, field practitioners, and experts in relevant fields.  Students with technically and socially viable prototypes may obtain funding for travel to their target communities, in order to obtain the first-hand feedback necessary to prepare their technologies for full fledged deployment into the real world.

This is a highly appropriate technological area to work in as it has such potential for bringing change to people's lives.  For example, as governments try to provide higher education to people previously without access, they require flexible delivery methods to enable students to learn from anywhere and at anytime. Online education provides the methodology but problems of convenient access still remained until mobile technology tackled the challenge.  This technology coupled with online distance education allows students to use readily available devices to learn without attending campus.  Thus, whilst studying, they can continue working or staying at home to care for their family members.  And the government doesn't have the expense of providing extra buildings for these additional students accessing by distance education.

And that just happens to be the topic of our forthcoming book in the series: Educational Design and Technology in the Knowledge Society edited by Stewart Marshall, The University of the West Indies and Wanjira Kinuthia, Georgia State University.