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Adoption of the Tablet PC by the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Tech

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Tablet PC use in Education

Tagged Division

Computers in Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.143.1 - 22.143.8



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Paper Authors


Shreya Kothaneth Virginia Tech

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Shreya Kothaneth is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech. She is also the lead of the College of Engineering's Instructional Technology Team. Her research interests include diffusion of technology, usability, and cultural ergonomics.

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Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Tech


Glenda R. Scales Virginia Tech

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Dr. Glenda R. Scales serves as both Associate Dean for International Programs and Information
Technology and Director of the Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program (CGEP) in the
College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. As Director of CGEP, Dr. Scales manages a state-wide distance learning program that has a long history – over 25 years – providing working scientists and engineers with access to exceptional graduate degree programs. Dr. Scales also provides leadership for international programs, research computing and academic computing within the College of Engineering. She was a member of the core team responsible for launching System X, which was independently ranked on the Top 500 listing in 2003 as the fastest supercomputer at any academic institution and the third fastest in the world.

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Adoption of the Tablet PC by the XYZ department at ABC UniversityThe College of Engineering (COE) at ABC University is considered to be a lead when itcomes to using new technology to enrich the teaching and learning experience. The COEstarted the Tablet PC initiative in 2006, which made it compulsory for all incomingengineering freshman students to purchase a Tablet PC. The department of XYZ is thefirst stop for all engineering students as incoming freshman are required to take twointroductory courses offered by the department. A qualitative investigation revealed thatXYZ faculty members not only readily adopted the tablet PC, but have also helpedfaculty members outside of their department learn how to effectively use the Tablet.Some of their faculty members are also considered to be champions of varioustechnologies. Interestingly enough, the COE has been finding it challenging to get otherdepartments to wholeheartedly accept the tablet PC like XYZ department.Everett Rogers (1963, 1983) developed one of the most notable theories on diffusion ofinnovations. He defined the innovation-decision process as the process through whichindividuals go from gaining basic knowledge of the innovation, to developing an opinionabout it, to finally deciding whether to accept or reject the innovation. He also classifiedfive attributes of innovations. He was of the opinion that attributes describe an innovationand help predict rate of adoption depending on the individuals‟ opinion of the innovation.They are Relative Advantage, Compatibility, Complexity, Trialability, and Observability. Rogers classified users based on adoption characteristics. According to him, there arefive types of users; Innovators, Early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards.Innovators are described as being “venturesome”, and they try out new gadgets withenthusiasm. Early adopters are not as venturesome as innovators but their opinions on thenew products are respected by their peers. The early majority hesitates before deciding toadopt an innovation, but they stand between those who adopt very early and those whoadopt late. The late majority is described as being „skeptical‟ and usually adopts atechnology due to peer pressure and/or necessity. They usually have scarce resources so itis absolutely necessary that the technology works very well before they decide to adopt it.The final category is that of the laggards who the last to adopt a technology. They do nottrust new innovations as well as opinions of peers. They have to be absolutely sure thatthe innovation will be successful before they adopt it. XYZ can be considered to be earlyadopters since they readily adopted and used the tablet PC. The analysis of the focusgroup determined that there was a link between Rogers‟ attributes and the successfuladoption of the tablet PC by XYZ.Figure 1: Conceptual framework of studyReferences:Rogers, E (1962, 2003). Diffusion of Innovations. New York: Free Press.

Kothaneth, S., & Amelink, C. T., & Scales, G. R. (2011, June), Adoption of the Tablet PC by the Engineering Education Department at Virginia Tech Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17424

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