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Learning 2.0 Tetrad Through Marshall McLuhan | dan pontefract
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Learning 2.0 Tetrad Through Marshall McLuhan

Learning 2.0 Tetrad Through Marshall McLuhan

If you haven’t heard of Marshall McLuhan, well you’re simply missing out on one of Canada’s most innovative minds.

Derrick de Kerckhove, Director of the McLuhan Program of Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto since 1983 wrote McLuhan for Managers in 2003. Shamefully, I didn’t know about the book until this year, courtesy of Jon Husband.

In the book, Derrick (and co-author Mark Federman) introduce the Laws of Media through a tetrad:

  • Extend (what does the artefact enhance or intensify or make possible or accelerate)
  • Obsolesce (what is pushed aside by the new organ)
  • Retrieve (what older, previously obsolesced ground is brought back and inheres in the new form)
  • Reverse (what is the reversal potential of the new form)

Harold Jarche has written about the tetrads and applied it to commons-based peer production. I’m sure there are others out there as well.

As I unplugged for almost 4 weeks during the summer, I began mentally noodling what the tetrads may look like in terms of a Learning 2.0 philosophy. I define Learning 2.0 in a corporate learning setting as follows:

  • Philosophy – shifting from training is an event, to learning is continuous, connected & collaborative. (simply put – moving from solely formal classroom and eLearning, to formal, informal and social learning concepts)
  • Alignment – being less fixated on a centralized training function, and more on a federated (hub and spoke if you will) talent and collaboration holistic entity



  • McLuhan’s Tetrad « CleaveFast / 19 November 2009 3:31

    […] Dan Pontefract on Learning 2.0 analysed through the Tetrad. The McLuhan Tetrad is super-useful for anything you’re tempted […]

  • Alison Martin / 18 November 2011 6:40


    Isn’t the net wonderful. I was about to spend a great deal of time making my own tetrad re: training and there you have it!

    I have a paper to write analyzing a technology through the Media Laws (McLuhan) and Actor-Network theory. I will look an Enterprise Software SaaS used in a corporate setting.

    I hope you don’t mind if I use some of your ideas (with citations) in my paper. I will supplement with some of my own ideas (if I can find anything you’ve missed).

    Kindest regards,


    • Dan Pontefract / 19 November 2011 10:18

      Hey @Alison: I’m a firm believer in reciprocity, so feel free to cite/quote all you want. Thanks for stopping by … and I’d love to read your paper when you’re done.

  • Alison Martin / 1 December 2011 5:53

    password trouble

  • Alison Martin / 1 December 2011 6:22

    Drat – didn’t save what I wrote, but refreshed and got a new page, so…

    Can I ask you some questions about your tetrad?

    1. IP production & distribution – Does this mean enhances video-conferencing capabilities, video content…?
    2. Loss of certified company staff – Do you mean less accredited / institutionally recognized training?
    3. Community Gardens – Do you mean the concept of collaboration / metaphor for collective “fruits of labour”?
    4. Kirkpatrick Levels of Evaluation – In what ways does this obsolesce K4 evaluation, and what other methods of evaluation are more appropriate?

    Thanks so much for your blob and links to others ie. Jon Husband, Jarche…



    • Alison Martin / 1 December 2011 6:53

      blog not blob

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