A disaster struck last weekend. The ringer on my iPhone died!
How would I cope!? No more hearing its chime when someone called, no more beeps and bings to remind me to be somewhere or do something ….. and ….. worst of all ….. no way to locate my iPhone which I invariably leave in some remote corner of the house!
Woe betide me!
Knowing I wouldn’t last the stretch of more than a few days, I quickly made an appointment to see a Genius at my local Apple Store. “Genius” is the term used in Apple Stores for tech support personnel. My appointment was last Thursday – my first day off work. With genuine care and concern, the Genius assigned to assist, took me and my iPhone in hand. Apart from quickly gaining confidence from the constant reassurance given that a solution was in sight, I felt empowered as a list of possible solution paths were given to me to decide upon. So, instead of feeling totally helpless, I felt like I had some measure of control.
Many a time have I visited an Apple Store to have a ‘look-see’, but this is the first time I’ve made an appointment with a Genius to have an issue resolved.
In short – I was impressed and would like to publicly acknowledge my thanks to Employee 1510989577 – the Genius who assisted me. He was reassuring, caring, courteous and most of all efficient as he worked through various steps to resolve my problem.
But I got more out of my visit than just having my iPhone issue resolved. I got to see, close up, how an Apple Store looks and works. This is what I saw:
- Great atmosphere: There was an exciting buzz happening all around the store. Even though my visit was quite early in the morning, there were stacks of people around – some looking, some playing, some chatting and some listening.
- Peaceful appearance: The large instore space is simply furnished with large, solid bench height desks and simple stools comfortable enough for a long sit. There’s no clutter. Everything looks fresh. Despite the intense activity, a calmness pervades.
- Controlled noise level: Despite the large number of people – both Apple employees and customers – it wasn’t ‘noisy’. It was easy to share conversations with the Genius attending yet impossible to eavesdrop on conversations occurring right next to me.
- Within reach explanation: The Genius attending to my issue clearly and patiently ‘educated’ me. Not a geeky or nerdish word was shared. Computer jargon quite simply didn’t form part of our exchanges.
- Incidental learning opportunities: Resolution of my problem took quite a while, so for some of the time I was sitting around with nothing to do. I really enjoyed reading tips about getting the most out of Apple products which are displayed on a large screen behind the Genius Bar – an ‘added bonus’ to my visit!
- Varied learning spaces: The Apple Store is, my Genius explained, separated into various zones: problem solving (referred to as creative help) at the Genius Bar for Mac Computer users, a sign in spot with ‘meet and greet’ Geniuses, online demo spaces of Apple hardware, one-on-one training, face to face support, small group workshop or instruction and programs for children.
My visit left me realizing that I’d gained much more than I’d bargained on. Rather than just receiving tech support, my visit turned into an experience – a great experience! I didn’t expect this.
So what can Apple teach us about learning? Based on what I saw, heard and experienced – lots!
- Being showered with individual attention sends a powerful message to the learner that they are valued and important. Channels for learning are enhanced by a teacher who instils this belief into the students in their class.
- Teachers who value their students for who they are and what they know are showing them a respect to which they are entitled as human beings.
- Reassurance is powerful. It not only creates a sense of confidence within oneself, but it also creates a confidence in the instructor. Reassurance thus enhances learning.
- By being asked to act on guided choices or alternative approaches, the learner will feel empowered and in control. This is a magical ingredient for successful learning to occur.
- Creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere is important and valuable. Feeling the buzz in a classroom lets both students and teachers feed off each other as they look, play, chat and listen to each other.
- Clean and clear open spaces allow easy movement in and around the classroom. Appearance helps to create a calm, no nonsense atmosphere.
- It’s difficult to share conversations in a noisy classroom. An ability to concentrate is also seriously impeded. Ensuring furniture, wall, floor and ceiling surfaces are treated so as to control noise level is essential.
- Speaking and explaining to students at a level within reach is essential. Jargon has no place in a classroom. Being able to easily grasp concepts and rise to the challenge of tasks sorted into slowly increasing levels of difficulty will ensure that students do not fall through the gaps.
- Creating avenues for incidental learning provides the learner with much value. Wall displays, dedicated computer/plasma screen displays or dedicated hotspot learning centers scattered around the classroom are just some of the ways that learning can be fostered.
- Creating a range of varied learning spaces within a classroom supports group teaching as well as differentiated teaching and learning. By establishing distinct areas in the classroom, an understanding of what can be mastered in that space will be easily grasped by students.
When considering my experience last week, I realize that I had been subject to the A-P-P-L-E service which I referred to in a previous post: 10 things school libraries can learn from Apple:
The Apple Store teaches its employees to follow five steps in each and every interaction. These are called the Apple five steps of service. They are outlined by the acronym A-P-P-L-E. They are: Approach with a customized, warm greeting. Probe politely to understand the customer’s needs. Present a solution the customer can take home today. Listen for and address unresolved questions. End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.”
Clearly I will be visiting my Apple Store again – even if I don’t need a solution to a problem!