“…to truly capture the full value of technology is to
adapt the technology to fit the way we live our lives
instead of requiring that we adapt our lives
to fit the way technology works.”
~ Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs wanted to make a dent in the universe by making technology globally accessible. He knew that in order to accomplish this, the technology would have to effortlessly fit within the everyday activities and lives of each individual. The technology needed to be accessible, affordable, and intuitive. If the technology acted more like a barrier, there was little hope that his intended impact would allow him to realize his vision. While Steve Jobs is the example used here, this is true for all technological and other major advancements. Ideas and tools are adopted when they make people’s lives easier.
Every day we impress upon current and future generations the importance of education. We focus on the collective value education has on society and upon the lives of individuals. The more knowledge an individual possesses, offers the ability to make informed decisions and be better prepared when presented with opportunities. We believe that education is one step to a brighter future, full of possibilities. However, despite the emphasis we place on its importance, millions of people face significant barriers.
Solutions are proposed such as “free college,” “dual enrollment,” or “micro-credentials.” These solutions are well-intentioned, but miss the real issue. Like the framework necessary for new technology to be adopted, education needs to meet the lifestyle and needs of the students it is designed to serve. If the vision of higher education is to change the lives of individuals through the education of future generations, then pathways need to present unobstructed options for students to achieve their academic goals. Higher education is a common good not big business. It is about providing opportunities. It is about offering a pathway for single moms to work while meeting their children’s needs. It is about assuring the girl or boy who grew up in the Southside of Chicago that there are options for a brighter future. It is about encouraging the dad who never had the chance to earn a degree realize it is never too late to follow his passion.
If we are to truly capture the full value of education, we need to adapt educational offerings to meet the needs of every individual. We have an opportunity to inspire change by facing a challenge that stretches us beyond our resources. We need to embrace a vision of a world that does not yet exist. We need to look beyond the current models and charge head on into uncharted territory. When Steve Jobs decided to make a dent in the universe through globally accessible technology, people laughed. He was embracing a vision of a world that did not yet exist. However, today, as we look around crowded airports, packed restaurants, and busy sports arenas, we see the fulfillment of his vision. As we see the faces of strangers, colleagues, friends, and family, we should ask ourselves, are we doing enough to embrace a world that stretches us to think beyond the traditional and reach for solutions to allow people to chase their dreams and achieve their educational goals?
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” ~ Antoine de St. Exupery