Posted by: crudbasher | July 27, 2011

The Speed Of Innovation

(cc) Telstar Logistics

Do you remember the Sears catalog? As a child, I used to be so excited to get that amazing book. I would lay on the floor with it and use a marker to pick out what I HAD TO HAVE for Christmas. 🙂 That catalog was published every year, so innovative products tended to come out in yearly intervals. The products were also physical in nature which means they had to be physically distributed. That took time and a large company.

Today we live in a society where innovation is taking place in the virtual realm. Software is being created to take sensor-laden devices like cell phones and turn them into all sorts of useful tools. Think about all the knowledge based problems we have almost eliminated:

  1. You don’t have to wonder which phone number to try to reach someone. Just call their cell.
  2. You don’t have to get directions from someone, you just need the address and a maps app.
  3. You don’t have to print out photos and mail them to family just to share with them where you were.

These are just a few off the top of my head. Innovation is now downloadable and costs $0.99.

(cc) ToOliver2

What is fueling this explosion of innovation is two things: A wide open market and very low cost of entry. You don’t have large established players in the market already. In fact, new markets are being invented every day. It’s like a virtual gold rush. Everyone is rushing to stake their claim. The cost of entry is very low because companies like Apple have taken care of the infrastructure of distribution. Case in point: their latest operating system, Lion, sold 1 million copies in the first day, with most downloaded through the App Store.

This is why this technology is so disruptive. Let’s say someone develops a simple AI based learning app. It’s fantastic and really effective. With social media fueling it’s spread it could sweep around the world in a few days. A teacher could go home on a Friday and on Monday every student is buzzing with this new tool. Not only that, but if it is successful, it will spawn a whole bunch of competing tools, as developers try to improve on the original. This evolution will happen very, very quickly too.

So here is my question. When this happens (and I think it’s just a matter of time) how will the teacher respond? Will we toss the lesson of the day out the window and explore this new learning tool or will we tell them to put their phones away so we can get back to memorizing the state capitols because it’s on the test?

Schools are so worried about getting computers, when they should be more worried about what the students are bringing themselves. It’s not the technology that matters, it’s WHAT you do with it and HOW.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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