The launch of Apple's iPad in April 2010 has been rated as one of the most notable business developments of the year by an eminent professor at the Harvard Business School - not just for its huge success as a product launch but also its wide-reaching technological influence that has led to the reshaping of many industries.
As the year draws to a close, Harvard got together three of its business school professors to offer their thoughts on some of 2010's most significant developments in the world of business and economics. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration, draws attention to the enormous amount of computing power made available to individuals and small businesses by the introduction of the iPad, and stresses the importance of directly accessible applications on the web as a key development in all spheres.
According to Professor Kanter, in a year characterized largely by a suspension of decisions and general gridlock over a variety of issues, the positive innovations by technology companies were bright spots and signals of important trends for the future.
The iPad grabbed a lion's share of the tablet computer market as well as global public attention as soon as it was launched, but that it should be cited as one of the most crucial developments of the year by a professor of business administration is, indeed, interesting. It is also perhaps a reflection of the inroads that technology in general, and the device in particular, has made into education and academic mind space.
Tablet assisted education has become a reality at all levels, in spite of protracted debates about its pros and cons. A recent article in The Berkeley Independent upholds interesting glimpses of how Berkeley county schools are participating in the Southern California Department of Education's Digital Pilot Program, as part of which which students are using iPads to learn fundamentals and do basic research on the Internet. As one teacher of fifth graders points out, I don't even think they view it as learning. They're playing games and learning what they're doing.
From elementary school to higher education, the adoption of the iPad has been pretty sweeping. The introduction of the iPad in MBA classrooms has received wide media attention as well. At the Robinson School of Business of Georgia State University, Executive MBA participants were given iPads in place of textbooks as part of a pilot launched this fall. By next year, this is expected to include students in Robinson's professional and global partner MBA programs, the one-year specialized master's program, and the executive doctorate in business, according to a report in Bloomberg Businessweek.
IMD Switzerland conducted a similar pilot study when students of the school's six-day Orchestrating Winning Performance (OWP) program were each given an iPad, pre-loaded with presentations, case studies, related reading and program information. Organizers were overwhelmingly positive about the outcomes and predicted that the device would in time revolutionize the delivery of executive education.
Similar feedback has poured in from a host of other business schools such as Darden, Stern and Boston University's School of Management.
From industries to individual-user, the iPad has extended and accelerated the trend of what Prof. Kanter describes as the webification of life and could well herald a radically altered future for business education and related pedagogy in times to come.