Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, Visionary. 1955-2011

I distinctly remember my first computing experience.  My dad, the head of a public school "Library/Media" department, brought home an Apple ][ (2), and I was instantly hooked.  The Apple computer offered a relatively user-friendly experience for the early 80s, and I quickly learned how to switch out floppy discs, endure the machine's unforgiving "BRAAAAAP" sound that occurred when said discs caused an error, and enjoy games such as "Lemonade Stand" and "In Search of the Most Amazing Thing."

My Apple brand loyalty had been forged in silicon by the age of 8.  Through the years, I have loved the products conceived and nurtured by Steve Jobs, even in those years the company was expected to go under (Jobs himself got kicked out of the picture for a period of time). For me, the beauty and simplicity of Mac systems has always been the hook, just like Steve wanted it. Macs have shepherded me though high school, college and graduate degrees, countless evaluation reports, and so much learning. I learned to edit video on a Mac, collected and organized my wedding photos, and connected with friends and new and exciting sites in the "i" spaces the platform so easily accessed. My work has revolved around a succession of mid-word capital letters- PowerBooks, iBooks, iMacs, MacBooks, each new generation making it easier to access interactive programs and visuals, and thus to facilitate learning.

I was not an early adopter of the iPhone, but, once convinced to turn, have found my life revolutionized, energized, and simplified by the fact that "There's an App for That." Now look where we are, thanks to Steve. A new generation of SLPs is entering our field seeing how simple it is to engage kids in using language though the technology offered by the iPad.  Veteran SLPs who are computer-phobic are revisiting and trying to address their issues with tech, seeing the iPad as a bridge to cross their fears and foster student learning.  And parents are able to use relevant apps for everything from helping their kids engage in self-directed play to rewarding them for positive behaviors.

Steve Jobs once said, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Steve really knew what I wanted and needed, before I even did, and has, at every step, pushed the technology and design to make it, well, "Magic." As much as I am sad that I was wrong about how long he would be with us, I am grateful for what he has created for us and our students.

Thanks, Steve.

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