In the late 90s, Apple launched the Apple Learning Interchange (ALI), an online learning community where more than 30,000 educators shared lesson plans and collaborated. ALI folded in September 2010, but Apple issued a statement saying: “We invite you to visit iTunes U [the education section of Apple’s revolutionary iTunes store] to continue learning and collaborating with other educators.”
Around the time ALI began, Apple was losing its grip as the top seller of computers to education, supplanted by PC maker Dell Inc. Still, Apple’s popularity grew in the U.S. throughout the 2000s, as its ever-sleeker line of iPods introduced many lifelong Windows users to their first Apple gadget.
Apple created another sensation in 2007 with the iPhone, the stark-looking but powerful smart phone that quickly dominated the industry.
The iPad was introduced less than a year and a half ago, but already it has sold nearly 29 million units—and it has inspired myriad rivals in a tablet computer market that scarcely existed before Apple stepped in.
Some ed-tech enthusiasts have accused Jobs of turning his back on education in favor of the much more lucrative consumer market. But Apple’s mobile devices are used by millions of students and have helped spark a mobile learning revolution.
“Steve Jobs brought a singular focus to Apple and willed new products to life with interfaces so elegant everyone ached for them,” Hirsch said. “Once again, educators figured out how the innovations at Apple brought new possibilities for learners, and because of the new focus on consumer products led by Jobs, learners began to have access to digital learning devices outside of school that would eventually find their way back into school.”
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