(PC-Sale image Source Twitpic)
In the Business Insider post Proof that the PC is dying a slow painful death Steve Kovach makes the argument that PC sales are flat-lining and are on the start of a decline. The chart does show a flattening or even a decline in PC sales and when one factors in the explosive growth of the iPhone, iPad and Android it is clear we are seeing a disruptive innovation begin to overtake an established technology. On June 1, 2010 at the All Things Digital Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, Steve Jobs made the claim we are living in Post PC era. When asked if tablet will eventually replace the laptop, Jobs replied:
When we were an agrarian nation, all cars were trucks because that’s what you needed on the farms.” Cars became more popular as cities rose, and things like power steering and automatic transmission became popular.
PCs are going to be like trucks
They are still going to be around…they are going to be one out of x people.”
This transformation is going to make some people uneasy…because the PC has taken us a long ways. It’s brilliant. We like to talk about the post-PC era, but when it really starts to happen, it’s uncomfortable.
A great deal has been written about the post-PC era since Jobs interview in 2010. Many people agree with Jobs and as many disagree. Regardless, the sales data regarding the PC does point to the flattening and decline and does show Tablets and other mobile devices in a disruptive growth pattern–so something is happening. In a Forbes article The Post-PC Era Starts To Make Sense, Todd Hixon a long time technology innovator, leader and investor who also writes about entrepreneurs and how they can help reboot complex industries suggests that the post-PC world starts to make sense if we look at how we now use mobile devices to manage our lives. Hixon suggests the post-PC era means three things:
1. Your life is in your Device.
2. Your media and your information are always there, wherever there is.
3. Boundaries between work, home, and friends vanish.
We now have near ubiquitous access to all the world’s information through our Device–access to information all the time everywhere. From an educational perspective the challenge of getting content to our learners can now be solved. I have been cautious to state that we have “near ubiquitous access” because the devices that we currently use are very immature as are the information ecosystems that are emerging. But with the exponential growth of the Internet and now mobile devices the technology piece of the move into the information age can finally be realized.
Technology is the easy part of this transition and we will see it evolve over the next few years.. Moving our society and societal structures is still our biggest challenge. We have spent hundreds of years and immeasurable resources on building our education systems to bring people to the information. It started with the building of libraries and then building of schools and universities around those libraries. Teachers and professors have grown into the information or content experts within our system and students traditionally go to the location of the information to get access to the information and hopefully to learn. Our educational system has focused primarily on the acquisition, management and the delivery of information. In an era when information was scarce or difficult to access this model worked very well. Accessing information is no longer a challenge–our new challenge is assessing information.
Consider the following:
When I searched the term post-PC era in 0.19 seconds I received 42,200,000 results from Google. I knew that I was looking for the interview with Steve Jobs so I was able to quickly move through the results and find what I was looking for. My ability to use Google search effectively and accurately was dependent on my prior knowledge and understanding of the information that I was looking for. Because I am well read and have an extensive background in this subject I was able to quickly and easily discern what was valuable information and what was not. But if one didn’t have the ability to assess what information was valuable and had to look at all the 42 million results it would take a person over 60 years to look at all the results if they spent just 5 seconds on each and reading for 16 hours a day, 365 days a year. This is more information than a person would have encountered in an entire career 50 years ago and more information that people would have encountered in a lifetime just a few hundred years ago. My friend and colleague, Bill Rankin the Director of Educational Innovation at Abilene Christian University offers the following train of thought regarding the role of educators in this age of digital information:
If I imagine my primary job as a teacher is to serve information, am I helping solve the current informational problem or make it worse?
And given the vast complexity of the informational network, if I insist on my centrality, does that establish or harm my credibility as a teacher?
If assessing information – and the wisdom & experience that requires – is the central challenge of the current informational age, are teachers more or less necessary?
I would argue that teachers, professors and all educators are more important than ever before. Learners need their expertise to help them to learn how to assess the overwhelming flow of information. We are well into the Digital Information Age and our learners need help navigating and assessing the flood of information that they have access to in the palms of their hands. I don’t see this as a challenge but as an opportunity to help prepare our learner for a future that is uncertain. We need to equip our learners with the tools and ability to discern what information is accurate and valuable and to ultimately solve problems that, presently, don’t even exist. What an opportunity!