One among many: the iPad in shifting material cultures of learning

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapport/konference proceedingKonferenceabstrakt i proceedingForskningpeer review


Content: The iPad is a relatively new technology in education that promises to provide teachers and learners with new potentials for organizing learning, creating and accessing learning content. Research shows that the iPad can be understood both as a device that provides specific affordances for learning and as an actor in socio-material processes of learning i.e. as one actor among many in education (Burden et al 2012, Melhuish & Falloon 2010, Meyer 2013) . The question is therefore whether and how the iPad in itself can provide the innovation in learning that is expected from the integration of a mobile learning device into education.
In this paper we shall discuss how the iPad becomes an actor in socio-material contexts of schooling and how it becomes significant for learning as an artifact with specific affordances within these contexts. We argue that the implementation of the iPad may expose the diversity of artifacts that are already present as actors in learning contexts. As one among many artefacts used in orchestrating learning, the iPad acts in shifting material cultures of schooling where for instance pens, paper, books or interactive whiteboards are used in combination with the tablet. At other times the iPad itself acts as a book that mediates learning in specific ways, for instance by involving the reader through interaction or by new forms of visual representation. In its shifting representational forms, modalities and relationships the iPad provides specific affordances for learning and contributes to the transformation of e.g. textual and visual cultures in areas such as reading and science education. This indicates the need for discussing how curricula knowledge and skills can be understood in the socio-material contexts of learning where iPads are involved.
The paper builds on data from two research projects that investigated the iPad as a learning device in the context of primary and lower secondary schooling in Denmark. In these projects learning with the iPad focused on 1) the role of the iPad in inclusive learning environments 2) children’s visual cultures and the development of the iBook ITAVS. Based on these projects the paper will give examples of how empirical observation and analysis can contribute to understanding learning cultures in which iPads are embedded as part of the learning. Theoretically, we are inspired by Actor-Network Theory (Latour 2005, Fenwick and Edwards 2012, Sørensen 2009) semiotics (Kress 2010) and visual culture studies (Mirzoeff 2009, Pauwels 2006). These theoretic frameworks can, we propose, contribute to our understanding of how iPads as one artifact among many - constitute change in socio-material cultures of schooling.
TitelAbstracts of Papers Presented at the 13th European Conference on e‐Learning ECEL‐2014
RedaktørerRikke Ørngreen, Karin Levinsen
Antal sider1
ForlagAcademic Conferences and Publishing International
ISBN (Trykt)978‐1‐910309‐67‐4
ISBN (Elektronisk)978‐1‐910309‐69‐8
StatusUdgivet - 2014
Begivenhed13th European Conference on e-Learning - Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 30 okt. 201431 okt. 2014
Konferencens nummer: 13


Konference13th European Conference on e-Learning
LokationAalborg University, Copenhagen


  • socio-material cultures of learning
  • socio-material cultures visual cultures in schooling
  • learning with iPads,