Ubiquitous computing and the pedagogy of the iPad


Since its release on April 3rd 2010, iPad ownership and use has spread rapidly amongst all kinds of people and into all kinds of activities. The iPad has brought digital content and processes into our lives in seemingly unanticipated ways. It is a paradigm shift in how we use technology, and perhaps in the very nature of being human. Education has not been immune. However, the adoption of the iPad as a teaching tool has not yet lived up to the hype. This workshop addressed the question: what is “the pedagogy of the iPad”?

Did you know that the iPad concept was invented in the mid 80’s by a collaboration of anthropologists, designers and computer scientists at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre? The PARCPad was just one component in a much more revolutionary vision: ubiquitous computing. The PARC collaborators built the first ubiquitous computing environment, complete with wireless networking, cloud computing and a full range of mobile computing devices with various form factors and specialisations. It quickly became clear to the Xerox team that they were doing more than just inventing cool gadgets. They had started a revolution that would lead to a new approach to working and learning. We now know this as ubiquitous learning.

In the Pedagogy of the iPad workshop we looked at how the iPad (and its broader ecosystem of apps and clouds) is an imperfect but powerful implementation of the ubiquitous computing model, enabling an equally imperfect implementation of ubiquitous learning. Students are already working out ways to make the most of these new affordances. The implications for teaching are significant.

The workshop slides include suggestions for apps which can significantly enhance academic capabilities, as well as diagramatic representations of the Apple system (and its restrictions).

You can watch a video of the workshop here (Warwick members only).

Download the workshop slides as a pdf.

Download the workshop text as a pdf.

Read Weiser, Gold & Brown (1999) “The Origins of Ubiquitous Computing Research at PARC”.

Watch an insightful presentation by Sara Hattersley (CLL) on Collaborative Approaches to Teaching Using iPads from the 2013 Warwick Teaching and Learning Showcase (2nd item on the page).

Find out about Allan Carrington’s Pedagogy Wheel, a diagram for mapping between pedagogy and iPad apps.

Dr Robert O'Toole NTF

Senior Teaching Fellow, Arts Faculty, University of Warwick. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow, Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence.

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