With a nod to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis, every now and then I take a look into the crystal ball to see where things are headed according to the trends that are emerging in different verticals, and how those trends impact one another.  Education and technology are certainly two that impact each other, but business processes are a third that can be folded into the mix.  These three markets  create applications across the corporate world when it comes to training and employee development, and have applications across the education space because educational institutions have realized they’re businesses too.  Why else would a college offer a “required course” for a degree program once every other year and have prerequisite courses before a student could register for it?  The four-year degree program is slowly becoming a five-year program with the addition of certifications, classroom hours, and practicums, not to mention the student that decides to change majors after one or two years.

If you’re reading this on a desktop, laptop, or hand-held computer (a.k.a., Smartphone), you’ll be able to use these things as paperweights or doorstops in the not-so-distant future, as they will go the way of the beloved 8-track tape.  Here’s why:

Mobility, Weight and Periphery

If there’s a buzzword in the technology space today, it’s mobility.  We have a mobile workforce.  Businesses have remote and field employees that move from place to place.  Their workplace is a hotel room, an airport, or a coffee shop with WiFi, and now, in the “Covidian” era, their homes.  Students are taking online course from home, or gathering (when permitted) at the local Starbucks or bakery to work on a project.  While degrees are earned in the traditional on-campus experience, more and more are being earned using coursework completed at different at universities throughout the country.  We’re a nation that’s on the move, and being tied to a box with a couple of wires attached to it doesn’t cut it anymore.  Because this technology needs to be carried, it must be lightweight, and notebook computers are not.  Extra batteries, power cables and external storage devices create even more weight.  Computer bags are professional-looking, but when two or three cables become entangled, or wires cannot be accommodated by the cases, today’s mobile worker resorts to what they used in college…the backpack.  Not the most professional thing to walk into an office with.

Interconnectedness and Collaboration

Data needs to be stored in the cloud so that it’s accessible by teams that are in multiple locations, including locations across the globe.  My cousin lives in Pittsburgh, but works for a company based in Boston, yet travels to Hungary and Singapore to visit with customers.  The sales meetings I attend are conference calls with folks from 25 locations across the country connected together on one telephone call.  Email on the Internet has outlived its usefulness for many companies, and their internal communications are now being facilitated by intranet-based software solutions like Microsoft Teams or Slack for speed and security.

Planned obsolescence

The computer my wife and I purchased in 1985 was our device for word processing and document printing for about 9 years until we gave it to my in-laws.  At that time, we purchased a computer with Windows 95 as the operating system, and were amazed at the difference in the technology in just ten short years.  We could access this new technology called, “The Internet.”  There were programs available my kids could use to teach them keyboarding skills (not “typing”) as well as “jumpstart” their learning for kindergarten readiness, and, as they become used to technology, could build rollercoaster theme parks and learn what life was like crossing the Wild West through sophisticated gaming technology.  They Y2K came along.  With the new crop of computers that were being developed, along with the rate technology was changing, the best practice was to “refresh” a computer every five years.  Then every three.  Then, especially with the new Smartphones, that dropped to every two years as service providers signed users to two-year contracts.  In 2014, the larger service providers rolled out new contractual programs that would allow users to get a new device every 18 months, but it seems we’ve settled on a 2-year obsolescence timeframe.

Further, if you have a first or second generation iPad, you’ve realized that if you try to update the software to the latest operating system, you’ve basically rendered your device unusable.  The time for making equipment last as long as possible has passed, and no consumer will pay for a new desktop or laptop computer AND a new portable tablet every year…or two at the longest…with cutting-edge technology’s current price points.

How will this happen?  Gradually.  You may not even notice it.  If you are a leader of an elementary school, did you notice that about 9 years ago, the parents of children started to change?  We became used to 20 years of Generation X parents that we didn’t even notice when Millennials began to enroll their children in kindergarten.  We just heard the cry for the desire for more and more technology in the classroom, and knew that our students needed it because that’s what will be expected of them in the higher grades once they get there, and it will be the expectation of the workplace once high school students graduate from college.  Prior to the Generation X to Millennial shift, school leaders didn’t notice that Baby Boomer parents in the school community we giving way to Generation X parents who started to enroll their children.  But educators knew that something was different because of the “experience” they were having.  It’s where all those “Time used to be when” anecdotes stem from, when teachers and administrators say, “I don’t know what happened, but it’s not like it used to be.”  Indeed, it isn’t.  Times have changed, and, thanks to the current pandemic, they’ve REALLY changed!

Relating this to the technology of today, the Apple Watch  hit the marketplace 5 short years ago, and “took off” a couple of years later.  Neither the iPad nor the iPhone were the phenomenon they are today when they were released.  In reality, the Apple Watch is more of a “remote access device” for the iPhone.  The iPhone is larger, but still portable because it fits in your pocket, and therefore has space to accommodate the data and programs that the Apple Watch cannot access because of its small size.  However, if you own an iPad and an iPhone, you may have already experienced Facetime between an iPads and an iPhone, and iPad owners can make and receive telephone calls on it if they have a Bluetooth earpiece.  If the user has an iCloud account, data can be stored there, which allows users to access this material, such as photos or documents, on either device or both!  It only stands to reason that the Apple Watch may also be able to connect with the iPad as its remote controller.

When will this happen?  Since we’re talking about the Apple Watch, it’s just a matter of time.