Apple effectively teaches customers on $100/yr

This blog post originally appeared on the Education Innovating blog run by Education Evolving from 2010 to 2011. It has now been merged into our main blog.

The senior vice president of retail for Apple Computer Ron Johnson recently described to the Civic Caucus, a Minnesota policy group, how Apple successfully brings thousands of customers each year from inexperience to proficiency with their software, for a relatively small cost.

In the One-to-One program, for one hundred dollars per year customers get one hour per week with a Mac Genius. “The customers love it, and they come, motivated. They learn, go home and ‘study,’ and come back with questions. The staff are fulfilled.” And, for the company, the economics work. The Geniuses are paid approximately $12 per hour.

“We first tried lectures in the stores,” he said, “but it quickly became apparent that people had different interests, and different questions. So we readjusted, and went to the one-on-one format.”

So what could this mean for schooling?

Young people learn differently than they did in the past, Johnson said. They’re creating constantly, and communicating constantly. Then they go to school and have to sit in a lecture and eyes glaze over. The stores now have thousands of individuals and families that come in and learn how to do things, via a similar one-on-one learning process.

Johnson imagined: “What if a teacher were given 30 students and worked with them for 18 years? Each student has to be pursuing a mission. Give a student an iPad, an environment that lets them use it, and the teacher as guide.”

It’s this sort of restructuring that is needed, he pointed out, so the learning potential of technology can be realized. “We are often thinking technology centric. Instead, technology is the enabler. If you don’t call it the enabler, then you’re on the wrong track.”

Image: Apple, Inc.

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