Conference PaperPDF Available

Tablet computers and the traditional lecture

  • Ifbyphone, Inc.

Abstract and Figures

A nationwide call has requested educators to emphasize methods that will encourage student participation and engagement during class. Concurrently, technology and ubiquitous computing have been making advancements onto campuses of higher education. This paper will discuss the research that is merging these two events and creating a platform using Tablet PCs that can be used in the traditional classroom setting. The platform enables the use of "digital ink" within slideshow-based note taking, collaborative activities, and formative and summative assessment activities. In addition, course specific software will be made available on the Tablet PCs and used to enhance the learning in individual courses instead of relegating these activities to out-of-classroom experiences. The paper discusses the differences and similarities between Tablet PCs and laptop computers, in general, and also presents information about low cost options to allow the use of "digital ink" in traditional computer labs. The paper also presents results the author has collected while making use of Tablet PCs to: (1) present course material during the lecture period; (2) administer summative assessment during the lecture period; (3) grade assessments with "digital ink"; and (4) provide timely feedback of student projects. Lastly, the paper presents some of the author's long term research plans of making use of Tablet PCs, "digital ink," and other currently available technology in the traditional lecture to (1) provide more communication between instructors and students; (2) elicit more frequent and higher quality feedback on student progress; (3) introduce more frequent and varied classroom teaching styles and activities and (4) expose students, in a variety of disciplines, to the technology that is currently available
Content may be subject to copyright.
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
Tablet Computers and the Traditional Lecture
Mitchell D. Theys*, Kimberly Lawless^, and Stephen George*
*Department of Computer Science and ^College of Education
University of Illinois at Chicago,
Chicago, IL 60607-7053
{mtheys, klawless, sgeorg2}
Abstract - A nationwide call has requested educators to
emphasize methods that will encourage student
participation and engagement during class. Concurrently,
technology and ubiquitous computing have been making
advancements onto campuses of higher education. This
paper will discuss research that is merging these two
events and creating a platform using Tablet PCs that can
be used in the traditional classroom setting. The platform
enables the use of “digital ink” within slideshow-based
note taking, collaborative activities, and formative and
summative assessment activities. In addition, course
specific software will be made available on the Tablet PCs
and used to enhance the learning in individual courses
instead of relegating these activities to out-of-classroom
experiences. The paper discusses the differences and
similarities between Tablet PCs and laptop computers, in
general, and also presents information about low cost
options to allow the use of “digital ink” in traditional
computer labs. The paper also presents results the author
has collected while making use of Tablet PCs to (1) present
course material during the lecture period; (2) administer
summative assessment during the lecture period; (3) grade
assessments with “digital ink;” and (4) provide timely
feedback of student projects. Lastly the paper presents
some of the author’s long term research plans of making
use of Tablet PCs, “digital ink,” and other currently
available technology in the traditional lecture to (1)
provide more communication between instructors and
students; (2) elicit more frequent and higher quality
feedback on student progress; (3) introduce more frequent
and varied classroom teaching styles and activities and (4)
expose students, in a variety of disciplines, to the
technology that is currently available.
Index Terms – lecture improvements, learning tools, new
technologies, technology in the classroom, ubiquitous
As suggested by Berque et. al. in [6], there is a nationwide call
for educators to emphasize instructional methods that
encourage student engagement during class. As one notable
example, we cite the National Research Council's suggestion
that educators should provide “active learning environments
for all students, even in large section, lecture-dominated
courses” [11]. The authors of How People Learn: Brain,
Mind, Experiences, and School confirm that active learning
approaches are sound when considered from the point of view
of contemporary learning theory; they further point out that
interactive technologies can be used to create environments
where students “learn by doing, receive feedback, and
continually refine their understanding and build new
knowledge” [8].
In parallel, many campuses of higher education have
begun exploring and developing ubiquitous computing options
for teaching and learning. Millions of dollars have been
expended updating labs and increasing their size and scope
[9]. Further, several universities have undertaken more
specific technology initiatives, providing (or requiring) laptops
or PDAs to (of) students and some universities are even
beginning to explore the potential uses of high volume storage
devices, e.g., an Apple iPod, in the student community [18].
Yet, although these initiatives are enabling a larger exposure
to technology by students in the higher education
environment, the most compelling uses of the technologies are
still not being enacted within the confines of the traditional
classroom setting. The most pervasive use of technology in
the classroom remains digital presentation using tools such as
PowerPoint® to display lecture slides that supplement and
illustrate lecture content [4]. While digital slide shows do help
organize class material and combine both visual and text-
based information, they are largely constrained to a linear
progression through lecture material, affording little flexibility
or adaptability to in-time student needs.
Computer science educators have recently begun
investigating the use of Tablet PCs and digital ink for
instructional purposes, and the 2004 ACM SIGCSE conference
devoted an entire session to this topic [3][6]. Digital ink
affords participants ability to take handwritten notes directly
on the tablet and store a digital version of these notes for later
retrieval. Inking systems can also record time, pressure,
context, and other information for every stroke drawn, and
reconstruct this information on demand. This process occurs
for both the instructor and the student. For example, an
instructor works through solving a mathematical problem in a
lecture and digitally writes the process on their Tablet PC for
display to the entire class. Meanwhile students receive the
instructor’s notes as they are created and can further annotate
their versions of the lecture notes using a different ink color or
pen size. This not only increases the richness of the notes and
presentations made in classes, but also affords the opportunity
to adjust static digital presentations in ways that are more
responsive to student needs. In addition, the entire collection
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
of notes (both the students’ and the instructor’s versions) are
archived for later access.
Tablet PCs also expand classroom interaction by
affording a greater range of tools for enhancing a static
curricular structure by providing real time opportunities for
formative assessment [19] and digital forms of summative
assessment. Using a polling system, students can anonymously
and immediately respond to an instructor's question during a
class lecture. This information is then instantly consolidated
and provided to the instructor as a check of student
comprehension. When questioning and feedback is frequent
and involves students actively reflecting on what they know
and how they learn, and when assessment data are used to
inform and adjust the course of instruction, formative
assessment can produce large gains [7]. From a summative
viewpoint, quizzes and tests can also be administered,
collected, and graded electronically using the digital ink
features of the Tablet PCs, thereby facilitating the process of
assessing student learning without sacrificing the nature of
Finally, Tablet PCs can also increase collaboration and
communication in small group exercises. Students can work
together on an involved work-out problem, communicating
visually. The provided system captures each student's unique
contribution to such an activity as well as the overall group
product. By using the Tablet PCs and wireless networking,
the students participating in the group will not need time to
move about the room, instead switching to another application
window on the Tablet PC is all that is required. Additionally,
the groups can rotate each time an activity occurred without
students having to “locate” their group during the class period.
These experiences can be configured to allow students to be
anonymous while participating in the group. Students will not
have to feel intimidated or annoyed by being matched with
someone who they feel is more or less capable than they think
they are.
While there have been a number of studies that have
attempted to look at the classroom learning potential of Tablet
PC based systems, these projects have all limited their scope
to examining a particular characteristic of the instructional
interactions or environments. For example, [19] examines the
use of class polling as a means to improve instruction, where
as [4] focused on the contributions of digital ink. Where these
multiple tools have been investigated, the Tablet PC were used
in a computer lab setting, tying teaching to particular context
and hindering the use of the system broadly across instructors,
departments and colleges [6]. This paper presents research
that seeks to innovate on these prior research studies by
examining the use of Tablet PCs and the associated software
systems in a natural classroom setting with mobile teaching
This paper will present a collection of information about
Tablet PCs, the tools that are available for use with these
devices, the author’s successes using Tablet PCs along with a
portion of the tools presented and the author’s long term
research goals of having a 1:1 computer student ratio in a large
traditional lecture setting.
Tablet PCs come in two varieties, slate models and
convertibles. Examples of slate models include the Motion
Computing M1400 [20] and the Electrovaya Scribbler SC
2200 [14] and are shown in Figure 1. Both weigh less than 4
pounds, have a stylus as the primary input device, and include
a hard drive, wireless networking, and a variety of peripheral
connection options (USB, firewire, etc.). Keyboards can be
added to the device and optional accessories typically include
a keyboard cover. But again the slate model is intended to use
the stylus as the primary input device Convertible Tablet
PCs, on the other hand, typically weigh more than 5 pounds,
include a hard drive and an optical device, e.g., DVD-
ROM/CDRW, an integrated keyboard, along with wireless
networking and a variety of peripheral connection options
(USB, firewire, etc.). The display typically swivels and
rotates so the device can operate in either “tablet” or “laptop”
modes. The Tablet PCs range in price from sub $1000, for
some of the older models or in bulk purchases, to $3000 for
the slate models with all of the possible accessories. A typical
convertible can be configured and priced to a comparative
laptop in many situations, e.g., Acer C300 [1], Averatec 3500
[5], or Element Computers Helium [15]. Examples of Tablet
PCs (both slate models and convertible models) are shown in
Figure 1.
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
A low-cost alternative to Tablet PCs that allows “digital-
ink” to be placed into your existing computer laboratories is
the Wacom Digitizers [25] that attach to a USB interface and
provide a mouse and stylus as input devices. Both allow for
digital ink and can be used like a normal pen. A disadvantage
of these types of devices is that one’s hand-eye coordination
has to improve before one is comfortable “writing” on a
device and having to look elsewhere to see what you have
written. These devices come in a variety of sizes and start with
a 4”x6” digitizing area that can be found for under $100. One
can easily adapt an existing computer lab with these devices
for the cost of a single Tablet PC.
A more expensive alternative to adapt to existing
computer labs is the Wacom Cintiq [26] that replaces your
existing display. This device uses a stylus as input and allows
for writing on what you are seeing. This device replaces the
monitor and can be phased in gradually in existing computer
labs. This device tends to be a little more expensive, about
$2000 per device.
Classroom Communication Systems (CCSs) have evolved
from calculators that facilitate multiple-choice polling [12], to
PDAs with access to web based polling systems [2] and now
Tablet PCs with wireless connectivity that facilitate shared
note taking and electronic assessment. The CCS provides a
mechanism for formative handwritten feedback and
collaboration in the natural classroom setting. The CCS
enables in-class polls, and provides the ability to show which
percentage answered a particular way and also showcase
student examples, both good and bad, in real-time. Group
exercises are easier to implement because students are not
required to move around the room - they can collaborate
through shared spaces in the CCS. Examples of CCSs include
DyKnow Vision Suite [13] and Classroom Presenter [3]. Both
of these tools provide, at a minimum, slide-show based note
taking. Some of the features listed are also included, e.g.,
polling in DyKnow Vision, while others are part of the
author’s long term vision, e.g., shared group spaces.
The Tablet PC has been piloted in classes at the University of
Illinois at Chicago (UIC) for a number of semesters now.
Because of funding limitations these pilots have been
somewhat limited. Long-term goals involving a 1:1 student
computer ratio will be discussed in a later section. In this
section we discuss the benefits an instructor can obtain from a
single Tablet PC that they use to complement many of the
day-to-day activities that are already being performed, but are
improved by using a Tablet PC.
The first improvement is in the presentation of class
notes. Whether you are accustomed to writing on a
chalkboard, an overhead, or lecturing with pre-prepared slides,
a Tablet PC with digital ink will improve your experience.
First is the digital record of what you have completed in class.
This includes annotations that you make to your pre-prepared
slides, or your entire session if you write them out each period.
In addition this “actual transcript” can be made available for
your students so they can supplement their notes and see what
“actually” happened in class if they happened to miss a class
or a portion of a class. If a CCS is utilized, the archiving and
access can be done automatically. If for complexity or cost
considerations a CCS is not utilized, there are other
alternatives for this process, one example is discussed below.
The UIC pilot utilized Microsoft Journal® to write all
course notes during class. Examples and figures in a variety of
formats can be imported or printed to a journal file and then
annotated with digital ink. The file at the end of the class
period was uploaded to a course web site where the students
could retrieve the file. Students were required to have access
to a machine that had the viewer, or a full version of Microsoft
Journal installed. Most students downloaded the Journal
Viewer and installed it with few problems. Overall students
were very pleased to have an “actual” transcript of the class,
including complex annotations on figures and diagrams. This
process is not as elegant as the CCSs discussed and has some
negatives. For example, students cannot “playback” the notes
to follow the process of solving a problem, instead they only
receive a completed problem and have to recall the process or
attempt to recreate the process on their own. Again the point
to notice is that students are able to pay attention to the
solving of the problem during the class, make a few notes to
remind themselves of the process, and the instructors’ notes
will be available for them to download and make use of during
homework completion and exam studying. Examples of the
types of materials that can be prepared and utilized in the
classroom can be found at the authors’ research lab website
The second improvement is in the process of grading
students work. Over the course of the pilot, at UIC, students
prepared group project reports that detailed the work
completed and showcased the functionality of the design. The
instructor was able to annotate, again in digital ink, a variety
of submitted document types and return them to the students
with the feedback. The amount of time required to prepare the
feedback was lessened, since comments were made directly on
the report. As such, the time to return the work was shortened
because the documents and the comments were digital and
were easily transported and graded.
The next improvement dealt with assessment and was an
extension to the annotating of submitted reports. The UIC
pilot utilized enough Tablet PCs to allow the graduate course
to take their exams using Tablet PCs (again the long term goal
is a 1:1 ratio and this borrowing was a small step towards this
goal that will be discussed in a later section). Each student
received a Tablet PC for the course period and the exam was
preloaded on each Tablet as a Journal file. The students spent
the period completing the exam inside Journal as if it were a
traditional paper exam. The exams were then manually
collected off of each Tablet and given to the instructor for
grading. During the first exam this process meant emailing
them since the instructor was at FIE 2004. It was nice to have
the exams and begin grading them before returning to campus.
If the exams were paper based more time would have been
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
required to return the graded exams to the students. Students
already had exposure with Microsoft Journal Viewer from the
course notes, so returning the exam in this format was not a
problem. Electronic testing is not a new occurrence, but most
testing systems restrict students in how they can prove their
comprehension of material [10], whereas the Tablet PC
approach is closer to the traditional paper and pencil methods
that we all use.
There were a few technical difficulties and some
complaints about the process. The most common and easily
resolved issue dealt with the screen size, in terms of actual
writing area. The Tablets procured for the examination had
only 10” screens, long term plans include using 12” screens
and many convertible Tablet PCs have 14” screens. These
larger screens were used, along with some smaller 10”
screens, during the final and students preferred the larger
writing areas these Tablet PCs provided. A few students had
issues with battery life and intermittent rebooting. In the small
case study we easily found enough outlets for charging and the
reboots were not problematic. In a larger course, with 50 or
more students we would expect more of an issue finding
outlets and so making sure all of the Tablet PCs are fully
charged during usage is a concern we are investigating. There
was no problem with distractions during the exam, as students
were more concerned about completing the exam. Students
were provided the Tablet PCs during a single course period
before the first exam so they had a chance to “play” with them
a little and get comfortable writing on them.
The authors have been working to establish a laboratory that
will examine the benefits of using Tablet PCs and digital ink
in the traditional classroom [22]. One of the goals of the
research is to develop the Tabmobile system. A Tabmobile
consists of a mobile cart, wireless connectivity, approximately
thirty Tablet PCs, and a small server that can be reconfigured
to allow the type of network connectivity desired during the
classroom activities. The wireless network allows the students
flexibility in the seating and also in the use of small group
activities during class. Developing a means of controlling the
wireless networking dynamically to restrict students from
accessing certain software running on the Tablets or sites on
the Internet is an active area of research.
Another area of research is how the Tablet PCs can
improve student/instructor interaction in traditionally large
lecture classes. It is thought that the Tabmobile system would
enable students to pay more attention to the instructor, and
allow students to create a richer set of course notes than is
currently possible. In addition, using the polling of the CCS,
enables the instructor to obtain more feedback about whether
the students comprehend the topic being discussed. The
Tabmobile system will also supplement the CCS by providing
a mechanism for students to “instant message” other students
and/or the instructor questions and comments. This will
empower students to ask questions without disturbing the
entire class and without the stress of peer pressure or a feeling
of inadequacy. During the lecture the instructor can then
customize the presentation to address the feedback received
via polling and the instant messages.
The Tabmobile system is not limited to formative
assessments via polling. Summative assessment will be
possible and encouraged. The system can be configured for
test taking mode and the students will have limited
applications that can be accessed and no wireless connectivity
(if none is desired). In this way students will be able to
complete their exams and have the system collect their results
for grading. As one of the author’s has experienced, having
the exams in an electronic form allows for richer and quicker
feedback to be made available to the students.
Because students would have notes and exercises in an
electronic format, it becomes practical to provide an online
repository where students can retrieve class notes from home
for review. Again, with the storage of ink strokes in as a
timeline and not as a whole, it would be possible for a student
to play back his or her own work-out problems in the same
order that they were produced. Such access provides students
a quick and easy means to review previous semester’s material
when appropriate for current courses.
The creation of a mobile system allows the Tabmobile to
be moved to different lecture halls to meet the needs of a
variety of instructors. In addition, multiple Tabmobiles can be
brought to a single room to handle larger classes. This does
involve a scheduling process of reserving the systems that will
probably become quite complex if/when the system becomes
popular. It is envisioned that as the demand for the Tabmobile
systems increases, additional units can be procured by the
university or departments to handle rising needs. In the long
term it is expected that a majority of students will have their
own computer that they regularly bring to lecture and can be
used for in-class activities. The Tabmobile system is thus a
bridge to expose students to the benefits of Tablet PCs and
“digital ink” so that they are exposed to technology and how it
can benefit their academic careers. Some students have
already purchased their own Tablet PCs based on experiences
and discussions that have been had with the authors. As more
students are exposed to the benefits it is expected that more
will purchase a Tablet PCs (most likely a convertible model)
instead of just a laptop.
Another research area that will exploit the mobile nature
of the Tabmobile system is using the system in K-12
education. One of the needs of the K-12 system is to educate
instructors on how to effectively use technology during their
day-to-day activities. By teaming with the departments on
campus that are training the next generation of K-12 teachers,
we can expose the college students to the technology before
they become K-12 teachers. In addition, a process will be
developed where student teachers can make use of the
Tabmobile system during their student teaching visits at K-12
institutions. This will allow the student teachers to expose the
existing K-12 teachers and students to the technology and
some of its possible uses in the classroom. In addition, it will
begin the creation of a digital library of K-12 teaching artifacts
that can be used at the college level for training purposes. For
example, a student teacher can create a worksheet on writing
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
sentences that they intend to have the grammar students
complete. Currently the student teacher has to create paper
copies of the worksheet, disperse them to the grammar
students, collect the results, grade them, scan some into the
computer for use in their teaching portfolio, and leave results
for the grammar school teacher. By making use of the
Tabmobile system and its collection of tools, the student
teacher can make a digital handout that is administered to the
students via the Tablet PC. The results are then already
electronic, and after stripping any identifying features from the
document, can be used in their teaching portfolio. The
materials can also be placed into a digital repository that
allows college instructors to pull examples that can be used for
teaching the next generation of K-12 instructors.
It is anticipated that there would be classes and activities
that would benefit from having a laptop in the lecture and not
the digital ink capabilities. An example is in a programming
course. In this case the Tablet PCs could be configured with a
keyboard so that programming could occur during class. The
instructor can make available code examples and ask the
students to determine the problems with the code, or have
them compile the code and interact with the result. A variety
of activities would be made possible in-class that are typically
relegated to out-of-class experiences because large enough
computer labs don’t exist. Another example would be in
making use of existing simulators in a course [16], [21], [23],
[24]. Since existing simulators are prevalent, the Tablet PCs
would enable the class to move these typically “out-of-class”
experiences into the lecture for a more hands-on approach to
A final research area the author’s are pursuing is in the
development of course specific software that can make use of
the digital ink capabilities of the Tablet PC. One example of
such a package is InkWire [17]. This package would be used
in a digital logic course to allow students to “draw” their own
circuits on the Tablet PC. Currently, software packages exist
that allow students to draw circuits by using the mouse and a
menuing system to choose the device that should be placed in
the circuit, then changing tools to connect the devices with
wires. The InkWire application enables a more intuitive
approach to circuit creation by having students draw the gates
and the wires and having the application recognize the wires
and the gates. The InkWire application would interface with a
traditional circuit simulation tool for testing of the circuits.
This paper has presented research activities that are
similar to research proposed. Some major differences between
the existing research and the long term plans of the authors
include making use of the technology in non-technical courses
on campus and in the K-12 arena. In addition, the existing
research has not emphasized the use of the technology at a 1:1
ratio in large lecture courses (more than 60 students).
The Tabmobile System is not a pure off the shelf entity, and
requires some research to occur before a working system is
possible. The authors are currently working to solve the
connectivity configuration problem and determining the
appropriate suite of software to include on the Tablet PCs.
Many (most) campuses are deploying wireless networking
on campus for their faculty and students to access. The
solution for use in classrooms has typically been an on/off
relationship. The instructor can leave the wireless on and
allow students to connect to any sites they desire, or the
instructor can disable the connection entirely. The current
research is to be able to reconfigure the connectivity in real-
time. Students should be restricted to certain sites (if any)
during a short quiz, and then have unlimited access during the
group exercise that follows.
A survey of software that can be utilized by the
Tabmobile system is currently being completed. The choice of
software to include on the Tabmobile has been influenced by
cost, scalability, and ease of use issues. Current forerunners
for inclusion includes Microsoft Journal, a modified
Conference Presenter, and software created at UIC for
assessment dispersement and collection.
The paper has put a very positive spin on Tablet PCs and the
opportunities they provide. The authors believe that the
benefits Tablet PCs provide far outweigh any negatives that
might exist. The authors are aware of some negatives and
drawbacks associated with Tablet PCs, and any technology
and its use in the classroom, and these are now presented.
First is the obvious cost associated with the Tablet PCs.
Many schools are implementing “laptop initiatives” (the states
of Maine and Michigan and also several schools), and the
authors expect to see results from these initiatives in the
forthcoming years. Convertible Tablet PCs can easily be
chosen instead of a pure laptop solution with a minor increase
in cost. (The exact differential in cost is dependent on the
exact model chose, deals with individual manufacturers and
distributors, and the number of devices needed).
Second is the distraction that the Tablet introduces into
the classroom. Some preliminary research [6] has discussed
that these distractions are no worse the than the student that
reads the paper in class or the student that plays games on
their cell phone. Once the benefits of using the device is
experienced, the novelty and distraction will wane and
productivity is expected to increase..
A complicated issue is the lack of battery life provided by
some devices. If a student's battery dies during an assessment
we can easily move the student closer to an outlet for
charging. But if this occurs for multiple students (or all 150
students) during a final, we can only imagine the issues this
will introduce. Of course this issue is equally likely when
using a Tablet, a PDA, or any other electronic device. It is
anticipated that battery technology will continue to improve,
and some tablet manufacturers are advertising 8-hours of
battery life from their devices [20].
This paper has introduced Tablet PCs to the reader and
compared them to the traditional laptop computer. Details
Session T2G
0-7803-9077-6/05/$20.00 © 2005 IEEE October 19 – 22, 2005, Indianapolis, IN
35th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference
about the tools that are available to make use of “digital ink”
and can be used in the traditional classroom have also been
presented. The experiences of one of the authors in using
Tablet PCs in the natural classroom have been summarized
and the long-term research goals of the authors have also been
presented. In summary, the research goals aim to address the
needs of students and instructors by introducing ubiquitous
computing, Tablet PCs, and “digital ink” to (1) provide more
communication between instructors and students; (2) elicit
more frequent and higher quality feedback on student
progress; (3) introduce more frequent and varied classroom
teaching styles and activities and (4) expose students in a
variety of disciplines to the technology is that currently
The authors would like to thank the University of Illinois at
Chicago, Center for Excellence in Teaching, for providing
seed money for some of the research discussed here.
[1] Acer Products & Services – Tablet PCs,
[2] Active Class:
[3] R. Anderson, R. Anderson, B. Simon, S. Wolfman, T. VanDeGrift, and
K. Yasuhara, “Experiences with a Tablet PC Based Lecture Presentation
System in Computer Science Courses,” Technical Symposium on
Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2004, Norfolk Virginia, March
[4] R. J. Anderson, C. Hoyer, S. Wolfman, and R. A. Anderson, Study of
Digital Ink in Lecture Presentation, Conference on Human Factors in
Computing Systems, Vienna, Austria, 2004
[5] Averatec,
[6] D. Berque, T. Bonebright, and M. Whitesell, “Using Pen-Based
Computers across the Computer Science Curriculum,” Technical
Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE 2004, Norfolk
Virginia, March 2004.
[7] P. Black, and D. Wiliam, Inside the black box: Raising standards
through classroom assessment, London: King's College London, 1998.
[8] J. Bransford, A. Brown, and R. Cocking (eds), How People Learn:
Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Committee on Developments in
the Science of Learning, Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences
and Education, National Research Council, National Academy Press,
Washington, 1999.
[9] D. Brown, and K. Petitto, “The status of ubiquitous computing,”
[10] K. Bushweller, “Throw away the No. 2 pencils, here comes
computerized testing,” Electronic School, June 2000.
[11] Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education,
Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics,
Engineering, and Technology, Committee on Undergraduate Science
Education, National Research Council, National Academy Press,
Washington, 1999.
[12] Classtalk - The Classroom Communication System,
[13] DyKnow,
[14] Electrovaya – Scribbler 2200,
[15] Element Computer :: Linux + Hardware = Solution
[16] Roland Ibbett and Frederic Mallet, “Computer Architecture Simulation
Applets for Use in Teaching,” Frontiers in Education 2003, November
[17] InkWire Home Page,
[18] D. Keefe, and A. Zucker, “Ubiquitous computing projects: A Brief
history,” Ubiquitous Computing Evaluation Consortium, SRI, 2003,
[19] J. Roschelle, W. Penuel, and L. Abrahamson, “Classroom Response and
Communication Systems: Research Review and Theory,” American
Educational Research Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA,
[20] Motion Computing – Tablet PC Products and Services,
[21] Mythsim project info at,
[22] TabLab,
[23] M. D. Theys and P. A. Troy, “Lessons Learned from Teaching
Computer Architecture to Computer Science Students,” Frontiers in
Education 2003, November 2003.
[24] J. Vroustouris and M. D. Theys, “MythSim: The Mythical Processor
Simulator for Real Students,” Frontiers in Education 2004, October
[25] Wacom Graphire3
[26] Wacom Cintiq – Interactive Pen Display
... Tablet PC use in third level education provides educators with the option to engage in many different ways of technology mediated interaction, in classrooms which support their use (Hulls, 2005). Tablet PC use in the classroom, provides academic staff and students with the option to engage in electronically mediated instant forms of online communication such as online assessment and online quizzes, without sacrificing the nature of feedback (Theys et al., 2005). Engagement in Tablet PC enabled academic programs is perceived as positive educational experience (Mock, 2004). ...
... For example the Tablet PC is reported as aiding the completion of academic tasks such as the grading of assignments, project work, creating lecture material, and capturing meeting notes which may occur outside of the classroom (Mock, 2004). The physical nature of portable devices means that their use is not solely restricted to specific locations, like lecture halls or classrooms (Theys et al., 2005). In today's universities, technologically configured environments now support varied types of connectivity to electronic systems and resources and support extended use of mobile devices. ...
... There are many assumptions associated with the perceived benefits of infrastructure and mobile device use for teachers and students in third level education. Tablet PC's are one such mobile technology which can improve student/instructor interaction in traditionally large lecture classes; enable students to pay more attention to the instructor, and allow students to create a richer set of course notes (Theys et al., 2005). Tablet PC use is also perceived to increase collaboration and communication in small group exercises (Theys et al., 2005), and can address issues which surround interaction and spontaneity (Hulls, 2005), such as process USING SITUATED LEARNING THEORY TO EXPLORE TABLET PC USE IN ACADEMIC WORK: PERCEPTIONS OF STAFF AND STUDENTS flowing, or scripting ad-hoc diagrams. ...
Full-text available
Increasing numbers of studies are starting to evaluate the usefulness of Tablet Personal Computer (PC) devices in teaching and instruction (Weitz et al., 2006, Hulls, 2005, Mock, 2004, Theys et al., 2005). In some instances Tablet PC use is combined with other mobile technologies (such as laptops) to support classroom interactivity in computer science courses (Berque and Thede, 2006). This paper presents the results of one year of data collection and analysis undertaken by the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems, Faculty of Computing and Engineering, Magee Campus of the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland. This study investigated student and staff perceptions of a Tablet PC initiative. The theoretical lens of situated learning theory (Lave and Wenger, 1991) is used to interpret these findings, which indicate that staff and student engagement in the School's Tablet PC initiative has been generally positive, and enhanced teaching and learning both inside and outside of the classroom.
... Several software programs, such as Classroom Presenter 5 and Dyknow 6, 7 emphasize the use of digital ink for integrating student and professor input during and after class. There have been a number of interesting studies investigating the uses of digital ink for promoting sound educational practices [8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22] . ...
... Further, some authors elaborate that the design of tablet PCs combines e-reading capabilities with web browsing, plus an assortment of applications that facilitate the integration of information by making information conveniently available, including creating a richer set of course notes. 11 12 Ellaway 13 categorised mobile use by medical learners into four groups, namely, (a) logistics (when learners use their devices for personal information management such as email and texting); (b) personal (when learners use their devices for social and entertainment purposes such as social media and gaming; (c) learning tools (when learners use their devices for undertaking learning tasks such as note taking and (d) learning content (when learners use their devices as a source of information such as checking drug interactions. This categorisation will used a framework to represent data later on in this paper. ...
Full-text available
Objective The purpose of this study was to establish the use of mobile devices by learners at a selected medical school. Distribution of mobile devices was an inaugural initiative implemented by our college. Design A mixed methodology design using a questionnaire comprising both open-ended and close-ended questions was analysed from 179 (60 male; 119 female) second year medical students registered for the Anatomy course. Open-ended questions were analysed using a thematic approach by identifying emergent ideas and concepts. Close-ended questions were analysed using SPSS V.21.0. Setting and participants Second year medical students at a medical school in South Africa. Results Three main themes emerged, namely, (a) mobile device engagement, (b) advantages and (c) challenges affecting use of mobile devices. A majority of learners accessed their tablets for lecture notes; more females were inclined to access these devices than males. Challenges experienced included poor wifi connectivity on and off the university campus; some students were not keen on the idea of mobile devices and preferred traditional methods of teaching. Conclusions Mobile devices have been adopted by learners at our university. Uses of technology outlined are related to Eraut's intentions of informal learning. Integrating tablets into classes had a positive effect on student access to course material.
... Problems associated with tablet screen size have been encountered in previous studies. Theys et al., (2005) tested a variety of different pen-enabled tablets and the most frequent concern raised by students was small screen size. The diagonal length of the interactive screen of the TabExam is 10.1", whereas an A4 page is 11.7". ...
Full-text available
The purpose of this study was to develop a computer tablet-based examination application (TabExam) and to explore its potential to replace the traditional paper-based exams. It was completed in digital handwriting with a stylus pen and submitted online for marking and feedback. Comparisons of student exam scores on both the TabExam and a parallel traditional paper-based exam indicated no difference, suggesting that the change in exam mode did not affect academic performance. While students reported that the TabExam had some advantages over paper exams, they had a neutral view on using it as a complete replacement for paper-based exams. More than half of the students accessed the online feedback provided after the TabExam while none of the students requested feedback on their paper exams. In addition to the quantitative data, this paper also provides a students' perspective into aspects that they perceive as positive or negative, or need improvement, with regards to the use of tablets for examinations.
... [5,7] suggest that use of such digital devices promotes an involved and engaging experience for students. Various types of learning styles based on Kolb's learning cycle and modality theory have been studied [8] which suggest that if tablets are to be introduced, they should promote active-learning environment in class, which it lacks. A study [9] also mentioned about the distraction caused by tablets in classrooms. ...
Full-text available
A study was conducted in two primary schools of Guwahati, India to understand how tangible devices and tablets impact the learning process. Data was collated from field notes, interviews, audio logs and recorded videos. Children between ages 6 and 7 years were introduced to tablets and tangible devices and asked to describe their learning experience after the designed usage. The data was analyzed to understand how these children imbibed the learning experience. Framework of Multiple Intelligence (MI) and Kolb’s Learning Cycle was used in categorizing the resulting learning observed in the children. This paper presents a qualitative analysis of the study to explore if new paradigm based on combination of MI theory and Kolb’s Cycle can emerge to determine the effectiveness of screen based devices and tangible learning aids.
... Thus, our work extends ideas reported at FIE 2005 where they use Tablet PCs and digital ink but not DyKnow Vision software. [2,3]. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
For over ten years Rose-Hulman has required all incoming students to purchase an institute-selected laptop computer and an associated suite of software. Students use their laptops in classrooms on a daily basis. More recently, we have begun to ask: What is beyond the laptop initiative? One possible answer is a combination of pen-based Tablet PCs and interaction-enhancing software like DyKnow Vision. This paper reports: our innovative use of DyKnow Vision software and Tablet PCs (hereafter, DyKnow/Tablets") to promote active learning in the classroom; similarities/differences in our approach across 7 courses covering engineering, humanities and science and involving more than 20% of Rose-Hulman's students; and studies that assess how DyKnow/Tablets affect student learning. Thus, the paper presents an innovative direction that engineering education may take as well as an assessment of some aspects of that direction
Instructors teaching DC Circuits, Digital Circuits, and Active Circuits I and II at North Carolina A&T State University in the School of Technology have adopted the use of a teleconferencing room to conduct their lectures for class sizes up to 20 students. To better utilize these facilities, an alternative lecture approach was adopted that used the available technology which resulted in a more efficient use of lecture time and increased learning as perceived by the students. Notes referred to as skeletons aided lectures and were prepared to provide relevant figures, example questions, tables and diagrams without the need for them to be written by the instructor or students. This aid also saved time and gave the instructors freedom to add additional material or classroom assignments. Students spent the lecture writing information more applicable to their learning. Use of the teleconferencing room allowed for lectures to be recorded for future reference by the students currently enrolled in the course as well as future online students that desire classroom instruction as a supplement. From survey data, ninety-eight percent of the students viewed use of the skeleton notes as an enhancement to their learning. Eighty-eight percent of the students in the survey believed that their in class use of skeleton notes facilitated learning beyond their expectations. Since students are already familiar and virtually dependent upon modern consumer electronics such as calculators and smart phones with QWERTY keyboards that assist them in daily activities, the next logical step would be to incorporate the operation of tablet PCs in the teleconferencing environment. This step would make paper obsolete and allow almost instantaneous feedback during lecture for class assignments.
Conference Paper
Since the start of the 21st century, information technology (IT) was introduced in many universities to support effective instruction. One solution intended to support STEM classes took the form of a classroom management system, such as DyKnow Vision™, which was different from a course management system (CMS), such as Moodle™. This may be because HTML editors on web-based CMSs do not easily allow both instructors and students to produce freehand scientific information such as equations, charts, and illustrations. However, classroom management systems require special devices such as Tablet PCs and force instructors to perform complex system operations. Moreover, in some cases these systems are not necessarily designed to accumulate learning activities for ABET or e-Portfolio. To support both writing by hand and the accumulation of learning activities in a class, the system proposed here, developed on the basis of the key concept of “No special devices in a class,” makes use of sheets of paper and digitizes the papers after the class so that they can be stored in a CMS. A multifunctional peripheral with a digital watermark enables this educational setting. Our demonstration experiment for three classes functioned well. This paper presents a system overview and the preliminary results.
Conference Paper
The paper presents two pedagogical scenarios that use pen-based technology, aimed at improving the quality and efficiency of the instructional process in higher education, in the framework of a computer science course. The pedagogical strategy exploits the use of concept maps to increase meaningful learning and conceptual reasoning, and tries to show how the novel technology of digital ink can support several learning styles. The preliminary results of an associated survey are also reported here.
Full-text available
While the ongoing information technology (IT) revolution is providing us with tremendous educational opportunities, educators and IT researchers face numerous obstacles and pedagogical questions. The Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) has a long history in engineering education research and has developed and designed many different tools for instructor authoring, course capturing, indexing, and retrieval. Special attention has been applied to the design and deployment of distributed learning environments. This paper describes the environment and challenges facing Georgia Tech as it expands its campus worldwide while maintaining integration of faculty and students across these campuses. The focus is primarily on the problems of synchronous delivery to multiple sites with a description of how technology is currently being deployed in Georgia Tech's distance-learning (DL) classrooms, as well as technology that is under development for the DL classroom of the future.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
This paper describes our use of pen-based electronic classrooms to enhance several computer science courses. After presenting our motivation for undertaking this work, and its relevance to the growing interest in using tablet PC's in the classroom, we present an overview of our use of this technology to engage students during class. Finally, we present the students' reaction to the approach as measured through attitude surveys and a focus group.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Computer science instructors frequently teach using slides displayed with a computer and a data projector. This has many advantages, e.g., ability to present prepared materials and ease of switching the display to a development environment during mid-presentation. However, existing computer-based presentation systems severely limit flexibility in delivery, hindering instructors' extemporaneous adaptation of their presentations to match their audiences. One major limitation of computer-based systems is lack of support for high-quality handwriting over slides, as with overhead projectors and other manual presentation systems. We developed and deployed Classroom Presenter, a Tablet PC-based presentation system that (1) combines the advantages of existing computer-based and manual presentation systems and (2) builds on these systems, introducing novel affordances. Classroom Presenter has been used in 25 Computer Science courses at three universities. In this paper we describe the system, summarize results from its deployment, and detail several novel uses of the system by instructors in computer science courses.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Visualisation of the activities which occur inside a computer is an important aspect of computer architecture education. At the University of Edinburgh we are using a hierarchical computer architecture design and simulation environment (HASE) to build a number of architectural models for use in research and teaching. A new facility within HASE, JavaHASE, allows models to be translated into applets which can be accessed via the WWW. JavaHASE applets are programmable simulation models in which the code and data memory contents can be altered, the simulation re-run in the applet and the results used to visualise the activities taking place within the model (data movements, state changes, register/memory content changes, etc). These applets are being used in various ways in teaching.
Explains the prevalence and rationale of ubiquitous computing on college campuses--teaching with the assumption or expectation that all faculty and students have access to the Internet--and offers lessons learned by pioneering institutions. Lessons learned involve planning, technology, implementation and management, adoption of computer-enhanced learning, and results. Also describes program changes evolving around the issues of vendor, institutional model, and funding. (EV)
Conference Paper
MythSim is a cross-platform control-code simulator being used at the University of Illinois at Chicago. This mythical 8-bit processor gives students experience with concepts in computer architecture. MythSim has been redesigned from the ground up based on the changing needs of instructors and students. An improved multiwindowed interface, color-coding system and reference card allows students to learn the architecture quickly so they can focus on developing and debugging their programs. To facilitate future development, the source code is hosted online in a distributed development environment. Feedback from instructors and students has been positive. This paper presents improvements made in the new version, feedback from students and the support we provide for instructors.