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Jobs resigns as Apple CEO; educators ponder his ed-tech legacy

Steve Jobs unveiled Apple's iPad last year. (Karl Mondon/McClatchy-Tribune Information Services)

Though Steve Jobs wasn’t at Apple’s helm during the twelve years the company established itself as the leader in educational technology in the 1980s and 90s, it was his vision that brought computing into the education mainstream, ed-tech leaders say.

“For those of us who began our careers in education in the mid-70s, Steve Jobs, along with Steve Wozniak, brought to life the first glimpses of what would become educational technology,” said Jim Hirsch, associate superintendent for academic and technology services at the Plano, Texas, Independent School District. “From the first Apple IIs that came with 4K of memory and stored programs on cassette tapes, the promise of what could be illuminated the glimmer of our teachers’ imagination.”

In the hours following the news that Jobs had resigned as CEO of Apple Inc., educators and ed-tech leaders reflected on his legacy in educational technology—and analysts debated what the move will mean for Apple’s future.

Jobs, the mind behind the iPhone, iPad, and other devices that turned Apple into one of the world’s most powerful companies, resigned as CEO on Aug. 24, saying he no longer can handle the job but will continue to play a role in leading the company.

The move appears to be the result of an unspecified medical condition for which he took an indefinite leave from his post in January. Apple’s chief operating officer, Tim Cook, has been named CEO to replace him.

In a letter addressed to Apple’s board and the “Apple community,” Jobs said he “always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come.”

Jobs’ health has long been a concern for Apple investors who see him as an industry oracle who seems to know what consumers want long before they do. After his announcement, Apple stock quickly fell 5.4 percent in after-hours trading.

Jeff Gamet, managing editor of The Mac Observer, an online news site focused on Apple, said Jobs’ departure has more sentimental than practical significance, and that he has been telegraphing the change for several years.

“All Apple really has done is made official what they’ve been doing administratively for a while now, which is Tim runs the show and Steve gets to do his part to make sure the products come out to meet the Apple standard,” he said.

“I expect that even though there are a lot of people [who] right now are sad or scared because Steve is stepping back from the CEO role, … ultimately [Apple will] be OK,” Gamet said.

But Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said Jobs’ maniacal attention to detail is what set Apple apart. He said Apple’s product pipeline might be secure for another few years, but predicted that the company eventually will struggle to come up with market-changing ideas.

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