I’m still enormously flat about the passing of Steve Jobs. He is a man I never met but who has had enormous impact on my work and the way that I spend my time.

I spent the first 48 hours after the news of his death, reading blogs, quotes, tributes and watching media clips online about his innovations and effect on others. Much of this was done in tears, which made me feel quite ridiculous for being so upset about the death of a stranger. Some people laughed at me for being so devastated and I’ve tried to work out why his passing has saddened me so.

Although he was a stranger to me as a man, Steve Jobs’ ideas and inventions became trusted friends and essential to my day to day existence, particularly as an educator. I’ve been a mac user for over twenty years and I still remember seeing the first Macintosh in action in an ICT Workshop as a training teacher and being excited by its possibilities to draw and construct things in a non linear sense. This series of workshops made such an impression on me that when I bought my first computer three years later to do additional study, only a mac would do.

Later, working at Melbourne Uni, I was surround by Mac-o-philes and started to understand more about its intuitive operating system, the ease of trouble shooting and the downright sexiness of its design. I remember a close colleague beckoning me to follow her upstairs and opening an office door that revealed a blood red iMac on a desk. I recall actually gasping at the bright see through plastic and curved shape. We touched it like it was a priceless work of art. I wanted one straight away…

With a mac, I learned to play with icons and fonts, experiment with layout and create digital materials on that caught the eye and appealed to the senses. None of these scientific, unappealing boring beige lumps of metal like those other computers.

A few years after that, I returned to the classroom and my brain exploded with the potential of ICT to engage kids in learning. I lapped it all up – slideshows, researching on the web, brainstorming with technology. My colleagues and I routinely communicated by email and shared documents and ideas. I attended conferences and saw inspiring and passionate educators in action using apple software to make a difference to kids learning. I threw myself into learning about iMovie and Final Cut Pro – they made such an impact on me. Soon, my students and I were eagerly storyboarding and creating short films, then we added our own music compositions using Garageband and ventured into Claymation. Firstly, with image streams of digital photos and later with iStopMotion. I was fortunate to have a brilliant technician and sounding-board work at my school – Steven Palmer. Discussions with him and other passionate educators sparked new ideas and applications and my brain was in overdrive with new ideas. Quality Digital Portfolios of student learning that embraced and integrated fantastic teaching and learning in a digital domain was possible. I couldn’t get enough and people flocked to our school to see what we were doing.  Seeing my first iPod led to practically jumping out of my seat at a New Zealand conference and racing back to school to beg the boss for extra money to buy some. My close colleague, Helen Otway and I nodding urgently at each other upon seeing the potential of a portable iSight camera and whispering excitedly about how we could capture student learning and reflection with this tool. Then the integration of iTunes, iPhoto, iWeb, iDVD. Pretty soon, the whole staff at my school were adding i as a prefix to anything we valued at work. iLunch, iPD, ihometime.

Then we made the big move from desktop machines to laptops – this was huge. Suddenly we could share technology between classrooms and be mobile. Kids loved working on the floor and the freedom of being free of cables. We got laptops in the upper school and within a year, had them in every classroom. The school purchased a bank of additional machines we could loan and suddenly we had 1:1 capability. The kids saw technology as essential to learning as breathing and were adept and highly proficient users. They taught themselves skills – presenting projects in Flash, Photoshop and animation form. My own laptop became my most prized possession. My life was on there! I went overseas and blogged about my experiences from Italy and Morocco. I shared digital photos of my travels with my students and I remember showing people in Morocco inside my classroom through the iPhoto library on my iPod. I came home and my students explored mosaics and tessellations through the photos I took and were stunned to see inside a classroom in Morocco. They realized how fortunate they were to have access to technology that lets them connect to the global community. I the lines blurred – technology had become an integral part of my life and work.

The iphone then brought about a new revelation. My smart phone was not only beautiful but enabled me to carry about my entire music and photo library, check email on the go, make calls and have information at my fingertips via the web. Access to Twitter meant that I could see what other people thought about a topic or event instantaneously. No matter where I was. I remember the excitement of attending my first conference were Twitter and smart phones added to the conversation. It was unbelievable to listen to a keynote lecture and converse/reflect electronically on the discussion with hundreds of other people at the same time. It just blew me away. At home, if I am watching a program that makes me think, I reach for my iphone and read/engage in a twitter discussion about it in real life. How our lives have changed. I can follow the footy score, get directions, check the rain radar and read the newspaper no matter where I am. And this is just the start. I get excited just writing about it.

I haven’t even mentioned the iPad, iCloud or a stack of other inventions. What Steve Jobs did was help make non-tecchies excited about technology. He made it beautiful and easy to use. He saw what was possible and allowed other people with ideas to use his tools to create and make fantastic things. He made the world a more connected place and he did it with style.

Like many, I found out about Steve’s death on an apple creation. I was doing some work on my laptop and stopped for a second to check The Age website for news. I was at first bewildered by the large photo of Steve Jobs and then devastated when I realized what the story was. My eyes welled up. I was so sad.

Reading online tributes, blogsm Twiitter comments and reading/seeing actual footage of Steve Jobs presentations just added to the sense of loss. He just got it.

Steve – I hope you know what a difference you made in this world. My life and work is all the richer for your contribution and vision. You will be greatly missed but your legacy will live on in all the creative and exciting things that will be possible with technology because of you. Thank-you and rest in peace.

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