iPads in the Classroom

Emerging Technology Tetrads for iPads

iPad Tetrad

iPad Tetrad

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.


5 thoughts on “iPads in the Classroom

  1. Hello Sanjay,
    Your post covers extensive research about the IPADS. I learned more facts about the IPAD and how it is being used
    in classrooms. I have interviewed some students that use the IPADS in classrooms and these students enjoy accessible technology at their deposable to retrieve online books for subjects. I think IPADS are becoming the New Wave in technology for the future. Great Post!

    • Thanks Petti,

      I like how viewing the technology through the tetrad lenses by McLuhan shows what technology was replaced. I think we will start using this iPad in the classroom more and more in the upcoming decade. Heck, half my high school chemistry class uses iPads or some type of smartphone and it has been only 3 years. I know of some schools where students are given the devices for free. The adoption rate, I think, will be relatively quick.

  2. Very cool graphics. I agree that new technologies will make the Ipad less popular, but have a tough time picturing something replacing them. I also cannot see them making the laptops obsolete just yet – they will have to change them quite a bit more to make them as efficient a work station as the laptop – however I must admit I am often wrong when predicting future technologies! You really make some great points and connections in your post – well done!

    • Thanks Karen. I spent a great deal of time making the iPad picture using tutorials on the web. My children have laptops and tablets. They opt to bring their tablets everywhere they go. The laptops sit around collecting dust. When I asked them why, they said they can hold their tablets while their laptops have to be set up on desks or their lap. Meaning, it is not portable enough for them. That is why I think the iPad will be replaced by something more portable in the future.

  3. Sanjay,

    Wonderful post. It is amazing that in such a short time span that the iPad has made so many things obsolete or close to it. The iPad has made my life as a teacher and a parent much easier. While my son is at football practice my daughter can easily do her homework or read using the iPad.


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