NECC: Steve Jobs' Keynote in Chicago

Posted by:
Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

I just returned from NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) at McCormick Place in Chicago where Steve Jobs was the keynote speaker. His address was full of the customary pro-Apple/pro-education info which one might expect. In fact, it may have been a bit too predictable.


I just returned from NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) at McCormick Place in Chicago where Steve Jobs was the keynote speaker. His address was full of the customary pro-Apple/pro-education info which one might expect. In fact, it may have been a bit too predictable.

Steve was dressed in his keynote uniform of jeans and black turtleneck and let us know that Apple was not just in the education market for profit, but also because they, like the educators in attendance, “give a damn” about education. His keynote addressed three areas about Apple’s education plan: Students, Teachers, and Administrators. The style of the PowerPoint presentation was also customary…black background, white handwriting font, and graphics where appropriate.

The first significant point was that Airport and wireless allows technology to be brought into learning, not the opposite situation where we needed to bring students to a computer lab to use technology.

Highlights included: iTools (logged in and copied files to his iTools folder; his user name is Steve); iMovies made by teachers and students; demo of iDVD (made 2 folders containing iMovies from his HD and showed the slide show feature with digital photos).

A representative from PowerSchool showed a brief demo of PowerSchool’s main features: Teacher attendance section; Parent instant real-time access to grades and attendance (can even see class attendance during school day!); and Administrator access (generating reports of student groups).

Perhaps I had too high expectations for this event, but it seemed that the address fell short at the end. Right when I felt that there was going to be the, “oh…and then there’s this one other thing…”, and then a new LCD iMac or mid-range PowerBook, or even new software aimed at education was to be unveiled…there was nothing.

The conference hosts took the stage, wished us well, and we were off. Seeing Steve in person was certainly exciting, but to the Apple Education faithful, absolutely nothing was new or different. I had seen some of the slides, videos, and demos in that exact format before.

What was missing:

- Any mention of SIF (School Interoperability Framework), an effort to tie educational database systems together, an effort Apple is heavily invested in.
- A mention of the virtues of OS X… what a great forum it would have been! All of education isn’t Mac!
- New hardware directions… especially iMac-related.
- New software directions… certainly it is time for some new thing in this area.

On the conference floor, Apple’s area was impressive, but their swag was nonexistent. (I asked for and received a pen; no posters, no t-shirts, no mouse pads.) There were at least two Apple Education celebrities there, however. David Dwyer, the original head of ACOT (Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow) research was there and speaking to the masses (he is now back at Apple after several years). And Cheryl Vedoe was there, the head of Apple’s Education Division.

I am glad that I will be attending Macworld Expo NY as I am now confident that we will see many new hardware and software announcements there.

Recent Posts