Widespread distribution of media has had a profound effect on how people have been educated. The invention of the printing press begun the information revolution that has only expanded with the invention of online technology and consoles such as the iPad. These two publishing devices have advanced how media is distributed and consumed using two different techniques, each contribution to the rise of education within society.

The invention of the printing press, in 1450, was one of history’s most pivotal moments. It was first made successful by Johann Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg who created the first moveable type printer (Farzaneh, 2009). This involved the creation of individual letters on a base of lead, tin and antimony which was durable enough to not melt in the press (Evans, 1998). This new method of publishing made the process of media production much quicker in comparison to the time consuming method of copying handwritten manuscripts. It also improved upon the consistency of the content as handwriting each manuscript left room for human error in spelling and grammar, which lead to poor education (Evans, 1998) The printing press improved on this through Gutenberg’s method as it allowed each word to be spaced, have the correct spelling and also be grammatically correct through the use of its pre-prepared moulds (Farzaneh, 2009).

Humanism literature became more popular than religious content after the inception of the printing press. This was partly due to its ability to reach a wider audience due to increased availability (Farzaneh, 2009). Consumers were no longer restricted to religious texts governed by the Catholic Church, which resulted in an increase in education. The printing press helped encourage a movement away from traditional religious content. Even though the humanist movement was gaining prominence around this time, the first heavily published work was Gutenberg’s famous 42 line bible, created in 1455 (Farzaneh, 2009). Growing economic prosperity along with the introduction of the printing press also increased education among the middle classes. Schools were founded and governed by the Catholic Church with their students being educated on both humanist literature and religious literature in order to prepare them for a career in the church or civil service. (Farzaneh, 2009).

After the invention of the printing press, the Catholic Church assumed control over what content students would be educated with, steering them towards careers that would benefit the church. The same cannot be said for the iPad’s influence on education today. The Apple iPad uses new technology to provide a tablet that has revolutionised media and education in today’s society, much like the printing press. It provides a large, high-resolution, multi-touch screen that has an easy to use functionality. The app store provides a host of learning devices that benefit all levels of education. Introducing the iPad to our educational institutions, according to societies reliance on technology,

is the next step for student learning. Our educational systems need to progress at the same rate that technology is advancing to keep interest alive within the student base. Apple has addressed the need to use technology within education, “Teachers and administrators cannot expect students to drop all of their gadgets and go to school, where they have to read from textbooks that have not been conceptually redesigned in over 150 years, and succeed” (Benham, 2012). Apple has done its research and addresses the need to move with times in order to be able to relate to younger generations in a way that they understand.

This also shows how far society has progressed in regards to technology and how it influences day-to-day functions as well as education. The iPad has at its disposal a growing app store. Here, apps can be created that are specific to each level of education. There are varying apps for each type of learning institution with each app employing special techniques that make them effective. The ‘Learn sign language’ by Remedios apps uses an interactive display that allows the consumer to see the movements used to make the desired sign (iTunes, 2012) This use of interaction aims to keep the attention of its consumers by playing on their need for new interesting technologies.

In the two years since the iPad was released, there is estimated to be over 1.5 million iPads being used in schools or universities within America (Bennet, 2011). Integrating technology into education systems is being used in an effort to keep the attention of students during school by using a more engaging medium. As we are a society that now relates more with computer technology, Apple executives argue that “today’s textbooks [aren’t] adequate teaching tools as technology [has] raced ahead. Instead, textbooks should be portable, searchable and easy to update”(Benham, 2011) It was essential to adopt the iPad into schools as we are now a society which is totally immersed in technology. Without our education systems keeping up with the constantly changing technological developments, education could decrease as interest wanes. With the advent of the internet, human knowledge changes so rapidly that traditional textbooks go out of date within months of being printed. The iPad reflects the fluidity and increased pace of communal human knowledge.

Online textbooks have exploded in popularity, decreasing the need for print media. It is now more economically viable to release an e-book than it is to print and Apple has done everything to make sure that their online textbooks provide a more all round experience. These e-books provide an interactive experience where students can use words, sounds, pictures and videos to have things explained to them in a more engaging manner. In this way, print media falls short. The e-book is also often a much cheaper option than print media; most online books are free or have a very small price tag (Bennet, 2011). Print media cannot compete because production costs mean that to make profit; they have to have a price set, which is well above the cost of an eBook. Apple has also capitalised on the green initiative with the iPad providing a paper free alternative that resounds well with environmental conscious schools who are trying to send a good message to its students (Gould, 2012)

Our society today places more emphasis on speed than on quality which is where society may come undone. Anyone can create an App which can then be uploaded and distributed, for a fee or for no cost at all. This speed removes the ability to check facts or quality of writing and we could again see ourselves reverting back to a time before the printing press, where a decreased amount of fact checking could affect the quality of education. This easy availability of e-books means that information is easier to consume but do not always have a legitimate publisher to check facts. Apple has thought of this and is looking at configuring a database similar to iTunes, their music cataloguing program which would work the same with educational textbooks (Garwood, 2010) This would provide e-books from legitimate publishers with correct information for schools. Some correct online textbooks have already been e-published but all have yet to be converted over to this content. Part of the reason why the iPad has yet to fully migrate into our education systems is because course textbooks have yet to be converted. The emphasis on speed also comes into effect due to consumers need for immediate information. It is rare to find people heading to the library before going online to source other information.

Online content is also more widely used due to it being more readily available or “easier” with textbooks being able to be downloaded and paid for within minutes. The implications of using an iPad in education are huge due to high competition between products; prices are driven downwards and with e-books costing next to nothing. It is now more financially viable for schools to invest in an iPad than it would be to invest in textbooks, which can be easily damaged. Apple’s warranty system means that iPads can be easily replaced if damaged and all content can be backed up on a  main server so that student work or textbook information wouldn’t be lost. (Bennet, 2011). As previously mentioned, the weight of the iPad is also a benefit as all the essential information can be stored within the device. It makes the need for numerous heavy textbooks redundant and unnecessary. This also helps in the long run as it reduces the quantity of items a student would be required to bring each day. This means that a student will not have to make the decision between a light bag and being able to read a lengthy textbook.

There is cross over between how both the printing press and the iPad influenced how each of their societies consumed media to benefit education. The printing press revolutionised its time, as the iPad is beginning to revolutionise ours. These two publishing techniques reflect their times and allow us to notice how each medium helped progress education. The printing press advanced its time by reducing the ability to make mistakes and increasing consistency. The iPad has to be careful in what content its app store creates. It needs to be more stringent in what content it allows to be uploaded in order to keep a certain consistency in its products. However, it is inevitable that e-books are the way forward in education and will soon become a regular figure in our school systems.




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