According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow, all humans have the same fundamental needs (food, clothing and shelter), and these needs must be met before an individual is motivated to look beyond these basic needs. This motivational theory is commonly referred to as Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

This concept derives out of the belief that constant betterment can only be achieved when certain needs are mastered. The layers of Maslow’s theory include:

  • Physiological (basic) needs: food, water, warmth, rest
  • Safety needs: security, safety
  • Love needs: intimate relationships, friends
  • Esteem needs: feeling of accomplishment
  • Self-actualization: achieving one’s full potential

To not overcomplicate Maslow’s philosophy, it’s as simple as saying one must satisfy lower level needs before progressing to higher levels. Seems straightforward. It’s impossible to achieve your full potential when you don’t know where your next meal is coming from. Hunger will inevitably win out and become the sole focus and desire.

Applying Maslow’s Theory beyond Human Behavior and Survival

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can serve as an analogy for what is possible with instructionally designed technology, and why I think the Apple iOS ecosystem helps with moving past the basic needs to enabling the ability to thrive and transform learning. It should come as no surprise that education technology has revolutionized and changed the way teachers teach and students learn.

But, it may be surprising to some that not all technology is created equal, and in many ways, the technology and software you choose, directly applies to the level obtained and the speed in which students, teachers, IT and schools ascend Maslow’s pyramid.

With new innovations, devices continue to go beyond “basic level” education tools. Student-centered application of technology is the gateway to educational transformation.

As schools look to modernize teaching and personalize learning, a student-centered approach to implementations are a mechanism to turn classrooms into interactive environments and provide individualized learning paths.

But first things first. Before transformation, you must master the basics.

1. Device Deployment = Basic Needs

Device deployment is the first basic need of any school looking to leverage education technology. If schools are unable to procure devices and if IT is unable to get these devices into the hands of students and educators, there is no moving forward.

If device deployment is accomplished, IT must next master device configurations to ensure each device has the right settings needed for each individual. And device deployments and configurations would serve little purpose to IT if they were unable to accurately inventory each device. Taking a deeper dive into your environment to see the number of devices deployed, software on each and any other pertinent information is essential.

Deployment, and all that encompasses, is the lowest layer of the pyramid and the building blocks for any school looking at offering significant quantities of devices to students and teachers.

(Next page: 3 more ways to apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to edtech)

About the Author:

Dave Saltmarsh is global education evangelist at Jamf, an Apple device management company. Prior to joining the company in 2013, he served as an IT and library director as well as a math and science teacher at schools in Maine and Arizona. Dave has more than 20 years of experience working to improve the educational environment through the innovative integrations of technology through effective leadership of school instructional and information technology.


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