Apple plays a critical role in education. Even without much outreach. They didn’t come to ISTE, they don’t host education conferences, but they do have a major role in both education and education technology. From iPod Touches to iPads and MacBooks, their products are a cornerstone for many classrooms around the world.
But what about the actual culture of Apple? How does that correspond with the culture of your classroom? Thanks to some freshly-leaked corporate videos and images, we have a new level of insight into the culture of Apple.
In case you don’t have the time to watch the 4 1/2 minute video below, I’ll sum it up for you: Apple wants to inspire you to do great and innovative things.
Why should a classroom be any different? Classrooms should be the engine of innovation in the 21st century, not corporations. It’s still quite baffling to think that a company as large as Apple can be nimbler and more innovative than a classroom of 25 young minds.
So how can we change that? Without getting into the arguments about education reform, testing, etc. (we steer clear of that as it’s not what Edudemic is about), let’s look at how Apple’s culture could / should be translated into your classroom:
1) Let Good Ideas Breathe.
Most of Apple’s tentpole products are created by innovative people who see a need that they can fill. Jony Ive and Steve Jobs got to their spots in Apple by being able to basically predict the future. Or did they?
In fact, these leaders at Apple got their top spots by nurturing good ideas. Whether they had them or others did, they played a key role in surfacing good ideas and letting other smart people improve on them. That’s how all major products should be created, to be honest.
In terms of your classroom, be sure to identify good ideas that students have… then make sure that others know about them. If a shy student talks about a great idea he or she has with just one other student… bring it up later on or encourage that student to share the idea. When students feel like they’re in a safe and encouraging environment, they’re more likely to offer up some innovative ideas and solutions. You never know what might happen.
2) Encourage Wrong Answers.
There’s a major push in 21st century classrooms to find the right answer and then move on to the next problem. As stated in the above video, that’s just how most companies operate. They improve upon a product until they think it’s right… then they move on. Apple (according to the video) prides itself on never giving up or stopping an innovation. Whether it’s on a new or older product (Apple TV is still being refreshed, etc), there’s always room to improve.
In terms of your classroom, use this philosophy to remind students that even wrong answers are better than no answers. Don’t let your students simply find a right answer and then forget about it. Encourage them to improve upon everything they do. Whether it’s the wrong answer, right answer, or just a simple activity during the school day… always encourage further discovery and thought.
3) Don’t Play It Safe.
As you can see in the above handout that’s given to new Apple employees, you should never play it safe if you want to truly excel. If you want to have an innovative classroom, get through to a student like never before, or simply have a more exciting day, don’t feel like your classroom has to always play it safe.
Stuck doing test prep or federally-mandated programs? Spend the rest of your day outside the classroom doing some creative discovery. Whether it’s project-based learning or flipping your classroom, never settle for the safe road.
4) Offer Great Rewards For Outstanding Work.
Apple doles out big rewards to employees. Usually in the forms of monetary compensation. (Must be nice to have kabillions of dollars in cash reserves). So how does that apply to your classroom? Basically, make your students excited to come up with innovative solutions by offering more free time if students can prove that they need it to explore an idea they had.
For example, you could create an ‘Innovation Lab’ in your classroom where a handful of different students every week get to spend time tinkering and building things they would never have time for during a standard school day. It could be a new invention, a new project for the whole class to take on, or just a random idea.
This ‘Innovation Lab’ could be the big reward given out to students who come up with innovative answers or ideas during the regular class day. You’d obviously have to figure out how to best do this in your own classroom, but the general idea is to reward innovation with freedom to explore.
5) Think Different.
The overarching idea behind Apple’s corporate culture is to nurture creativity and innovation. To think different. Your classroom could adopt this culture in just a few days but it all starts at the top. If teachers can start to think differently, create exciting new projects, or encourage a different kind of thought process, you’re on your way to making your classroom a whole lot like the innovative world of Apple.
Do you encourage innovation in your classroom? If you’re a regular reader of Edudemic, you probably do! I’d love to hear about how you make it happen. Share your experiences and tips in the comments or on the Edudemic Facebook page so everyone else can learn from you. Thanks!
H/T to George Couros for inspiring this post!