Having just completed the Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson what strikes me most is how far education is from having embraced technology to deliver wholesale transformation in a sector that could have such significant impact.
I see technology in education as enabling:
1) Content (the iPad is now a library on tablet and where previously a few rooms may have been needed to host the books one iPad could be the host of shelves upon shelves of educational material; the Khan Academy is also an excellent example of what a not-for-profit is doing to revolutionise the creation and distribution of video learning through YouTube; some have even started to translate Khan Academy lessons into other languages such as Hindi/Urdu e.g. http://www.youtube.com/user/KhanAcademyHindiUrdu)
2) Collaboration and social learning (this is most apparent when we see what is happening on educational social networks like Edmodo [http://www.edmodo.com/])
3) Delivery (a few years back organisations like the mountain trust were creating innovative learning delivery channels like ‘radio education’; there are now a number of new channels for the delivery of education ranging from smart phones to low cost tablets)
The reality is that at the bottom of the pyramid technology is often the last lever that is visited though it could have an enormous impact on the major issues surrounding acute teacher shortages and bridging the growing digital divide between those that have versus those that do not.
Jobs wanted to help condense a number of books that strained the back of students into an easy to port digital format carried on a hand held. At the current price points it seems like a pipe dream to even think about using iPads in the developing world to deliver next generation teacher training or educating the poorest of the poor. But perhaps in the future as Chinese clones drive down the price of such equipment and the coming together of public, private and third sector partnerships enables piloting and using such innovative technology we may see some remarkable outcomes within a very short period of time. Will children be able to use the Khan Academy lessons in the future to learn about Algebra in a village in Waziristan or perhaps in a slum outside of Karachi or Mumbai. Time will tell but the potential to enable the delivery of education through digital channels has never been greater.