June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Computers in Education
13.35.1 - 13.35.15
As “hand-written notes” and “personal narrations” are the most natural tools to record, review, integrate and develop our own learning process, this article describes a collaborative learning and teaching environment integrating the use of Pen Tablets and multimedia technologies at the student/teacher level with the goal of achieving active learning for students in the classroom. An innovative hardware and software integration of the PCI NetSupport Manager Suite, TechSmith Camtasia Studio and Wacom Pen Tablets was implemented to provide both "teacher-centric" and "student-student collaborative" modes in this classroom. Students were also provided with dual graphics displays allowing the student to use one display for his or her personal workspace, while the second display could be used to view/share information with the instructor’s desktop, or to share into other students work during collaborative sessions. This project was started in mid-August 2007 and assessment results are presented in this article for Fall 07 and the early part of Spring 08.
One of the thrusts for our Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department curriculum is to promote the active learning aspects for our engineering students during classroom lectures as well as during laboratory experiments needed for the course1. Based on student technology fees, departmental and collegial funds, two collaborative classrooms were created. Classroom A currently has 35 workstations for students and a teacher station connected to an isolated 1.0 Gbps LAN, while Classroom B is similarly equipped but with only 12 student workstations. In both classrooms, the desktop PCs are equipped with specialized software to allow synchronous collaborative interactions between teacher-students and student-student for in-class projects, as well as for receiving classroom instructions from experts located outside the campus via videoconferencing technologies. Starting in Fall 20052, we incorporated the use of a Tablet PC by the teacher in developing hand-written materials that are best created during class time, such as deriving computer algorithms interactively with student inputs, going over solutions to quizzes, tests or review sessions. This Tablet PC was also used to directly control remote lab equipment and to send its "apparent" desktop, along with hand-written annotations, to the student PCs thus allowing the students to "see" the operation of the remote lab equipment as well to operate the remote equipment by proxy via the Teacher Desktop Station (see Fig. 1). From this experience, it was apparent that the student PCs were “closed boxes from which information can be published or into which information can be drawn, but they are not able to interact spontaneously with other closed boxes”3. Furthermore, for more active on-line learning, Boettcher4 noted the rise of “performance content that is generated spontaneously in the process of student learning”, and applying this trend for face-to-face instruction results in a need to provide students more opportunities to develop course materials in concert with the instructor during class time, such as solving an optics problem or building a simulation model, and also to participate in other students work or just simply to take one’s own class notes. Thus as personal “hand-written notes” and “narrations” are the most natural tools to record, review, integrate and develop our own learning process, we are continuing the existing project to include the use of Tablet PCs (or Pen Tablets with Desktop PCs on Windows Vista) and multimedia technologies at the student level with the goal of achieving more active and hopefully deeper learning for students in the lecture hall as well as in the laboratory. Barkley et al.5 listed that "learning to
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