Emerging Technology Tetrads for iPads
The iPads have only been around since April 2010, but there is no shortage of talk regarding the use of iPads in the classroom. The iPad has the potential to replace certain technology. Likewise, certain technology can replace iPads in the classroom in the near future. Viewing the iPads and other types of tablets through the tetrads formed by McLuhan, which are retrieve, enhance, obsolesce, and reversal (Thornburg, 2008), puts the devices into perspective.
The iPad is built on similar ideas that have existed prior to the iPad. Touchscreens were built before the iPads, but the iPad allowed for multi-surface touch capabilities. The iPad makes use of 3G and Wi-Fi Internet, which was already available in other devices. PDAs and e-book devices existed prior to the iPad, and the iPad incorporated their functions into its device. The iPad makes use of technology that existed before the iPad.
The iPads have enhanced portable computers. Portable computers come with faster processors, lots more RAM memory, larger storage, and longer lasting battery life than the iPads. Yet, the iPads have enhanced portable computers by the ease in transportation, touch screens, and no need to set the device on a table or lap to begin typing. Simply put, the iPad is more convenient than carrying around a device that needs to be placed on top of something before work can get done.
Technologies are made obsolete by the iPad. Physical copies of books will not be needed because digital versions can be placed on the iPad. Students can take notes on an iPad and use applications like a calculator on the device. iPads have already enhanced the idea of portability, so laptops and netbooks are obsolete in comparison. Since the iPad replaces many technology tools, students will not have to bring school bags to class anymore. The clickers used in classrooms as a formative assessment tool can be wheeled into storage because iPads allow students to communicate via the Internet and Bluetooth. The iPad is an all-in-one wonder that makes many technologies obsolete.
As advanced as iPads are, they will be replaced by other technology. Wearable technology, which is more portable than carrying an iPad, will be the norm. Smaller devices that are more portable with upgraded specifications will replace the iPad. The iPad offers a glimpse into the future by looking at the benefits it offers today.
Using McLuhan’s Law of Media, the iPad is put into contexts of what ideas helped in its formation, what will replace it and what it is replacing and enhancing. Technology devices do not appear out of nowhere; rather, they are built on tools from the past (Thornburg, 2008). Just as the iPads have enhanced the idea of portability, a future technology will enhance and make iPads obsolete.
Thornburg, D. D. (2008). Emerging technologies and McLuhan’s Laws of Media. Lake Barrington, IL: Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.