"Think Different": How Steve Jobs Brought Learning to a Whole New Level

Apple’s late co-founder was on a mission to change the world. The technologies that Jobs created such as the tablets and mobile devices have contributed to dynamic change in both our personal lives and across all industries.

Jobs’ series of innovations also transformed corporate and mobile learning. Not only was NeXT Computing (Jobs’ short-lived company which made computers for higher education and corporations) used by Tim Berners-Lee to create the World Wide Web as we know it, Apple’s various inventions over the past few years have taken corporate learning to a completely new level enabling the trading of intelligence via social.

"[Jobs'] greatest legacy will be his emphasis on design—making existing technology usable, and even desirable," said Russell Flett, Manager, Technology Curriculum Development at Cox Communications. "He had the exceptional vision to take complex technologies and make them simple for the user. By pursuing simplicity (sometimes ruthlessly), he removed the technological barriers for non-techie users and opened the doors to a radical platform expansion for the communication of ideas."

This impact is particularly observable in global organizations.

"Learning strengthens the talent bench and enables the organization to go to places it hasn’t been before," David Yudis, Vice President of DCP Global Learning and Executive Development for Walt Disney tells HRIQ. "Everyone matters and is a piece of the puzzle, or part of the engine—choose your analogy. A person has the potential to be the difference and make a difference. Your knowledge has the power to be the next billion dollar idea."

Yudis confirms that technologies available today, such as mobile apps, tablets, and other devices, are impacting corporate knowledge management immensely.

"It takes me back to the idea of ubiquity—technology [today] is allowing anybody at anytime to learn just about anything. This expands reach, frequency and consistency of communications across a global workforce. For the first time, maybe ever, global organizations…can touch everybody at once, all the time."

Today’s knowledge workers have redefined the meaning of "full-time job" and this is the kind of ubiquity that Yudis is referring to. Smart companies know that knowledge workers eat, sleep and breathe their work, which is why the most innovative companies are scoffing at the traditional 9 am to 5 pm structure, thanks in large part to Apple’s recent innovations that allow users this sense of constant connectedness to their colleagues. This very well allows a subject matter expert (SME) based in California to help her colleague in Dubai solve a problem and avert potential corporate disaster, despite a dramatic and otherwise insurmountable time difference.

"The iPod/iPhone products have not only enabled learning to become mobile and instantaneous but, through its platform and applications, revolutionized the concept of peer-to-peer and social learning, which increasingly play an important role in supporting personal knowledge management among today's knowledge workers," says HRIQ Advisory board member Professor Eric Y.H. Tsui of the Hong Kong Knowledge Management Society. "Apple products are disruptive agents that enact change in learning behavior, learning processes and authoring of learning content."
"The future looks very bright for learning and training," says Yudis. "The sky’s the limit, if you will."

So what does the future hold for corporate learning? According to Flett, Jobs' contribution to technology "enabled revolutions, such as the Arab Spring, as well as an accelerated adoption of mobile learning. It will likely lead to the de-centralization of learning away from the LMS and towards a future, user-centered distribution model."

We owe this bright outlook in great part to the recently departed Jobs and the indelible mark his company and innovations have left on the workplace and society.

"The technology revolution that Steve Jobs led has made it possible for us to be smarter at work," says economist Dr. Laurie Bassi. "The boundaries between work and learning are disintegrating, with the two becoming more and more intertwined and seamless. The new technologies have made it possible to work and learn simultaneously, which is a great thing for people, employers, and society. "