Last year, McREL released The Future of Schooling: Educating America in 2020 (Solution Tree, 2010), which looked at four possible scenarios of education. Our scenarios were dependent upon known certainties, such as advances in technology and changes in populations, while also looking at how critical uncertainties could impact education.
One scenario, Who Killed Buster the Bearcat?, highlighted student and teacher use of a tool known as “uber-ubis,” or tools that were uber-ubiquitous in this particular world. These tools served as e-readers, Internet browsers, video conferencing devices, and numerous other applications.
When the authors wrote these scenarios in the fall of 2009, the iPad was unheard of for most of the population. And yet…
Now we have a device that does indeed serve as an e-reader. It’s a device that can be used to regularly look up information, read and answer e-mails, video conference using Facetime, keep track of travel, and organize calendars. Educational apps such as eClicker are beginning to serve as quick assessment tools for teachers. Hundreds of educational games have emerged to help students practice basic skills as well as apps that allow the user to create movies, drawings, music, and pictures.
Is the iPad (or similar device) the uber-ubi? Time will tell, but it certainly seems as though it is headed in that direction.