What's the difference? iPads as placed resources.

Year: 2012

Author: Rowsell, Jennifer, Gallagher, Tiffany, Simpson, Alyson, Walsh, Maureen

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


As global resources used within local contexts, iPads require both human and non-human actors to make them functional. Bruno Latour claims that the two extremes, local and global, "are much less interesting then the intermediary arrangements that we call networks" (Latour, 1993: 122). This presentation within a symposium on literacy resources in local-global contexts considers how iPads are used, mobilized, and understood across three different contexts in Toronto; San Diego; and Sydney and how contextual dimensions with global resources contribute to a fuller understanding of literacy teaching and learning. Through observational fieldnotes, interviews, artifactual data from all three sites, the presentation argues that iPads used for teaching and learning literacy is as much about digital epistemologies and multimodal dispositions as it is about our more traditional understandings of literacy practices. To extrapolate the nature and epistemic qualities of ipad use in multi-sited primary classrooms, we consider contextual dimensions; material and discursive dimensions; and, contrastive and comparative literacy practices between ipads and print-based books.

Latour calls "immutable mobiles" (1987) texts, technical artifacts, money, global and local discourses that make up networks. In other words, immutable mobiles are durable and it is only through mobilization of immutable mobiles that networks can circulate information, modes, and discourses. In our international study, we have similarly found that non-human and human networks circulate within classroom sites and that ipads function as immutable mobiles across these sites and function within an intermediary space between the local and the global. We will illustrate teacher take-up of ipads as literacy resources within primary classrooms and student improvisation with ipads and print-based texts and the networks that circulate in this web of praxis. We will conclude with the larger implications of such research on literacy resources as networks that circulate particular discourses and ideologies about literacy practice and pedagogy.


Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.

Latour, B.(a) 1987. Science in Action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.