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Evaluation Of Tablet Pcs For Engineering Instruction And Content Development

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Portable/Embedded Computing I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.583.1 - 9.583.5



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Paper Authors

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J. Brook Zurn

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Jeff Frolik

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1620

Evaluation of Tablet PCs for engineering content development and instruction

Jeff Frolik and J. Brooks Zurn

University of Vermont


Over the past decade, there has been a great deal of activity across disciplines attempting to incorporate computing into the classroom environment. The now near ubiquitous nature of multimedia enhanced classrooms is indicative of the perceived benefits of this technology. In terms of instruction, these enhanced classrooms have enabled faculty to replace or augment chalk/whiteboard lectures with a variety of new pedagogy. At the extreme end of the spectrum are wireless or tetherless classrooms where students each have their own mobile computing device. Using these devices (laptop or PDA), students can in real-time view and interact with lecture material that incorporates multimedia, web-based content and experiments. For example, under this scenario, an instructor could embed web-based simulations in his/her lecture that can be accessed to further illustrate the points1. After students have experimented with these simulations, the instructor can then query the students as to what was discovered and how these discoveries relate to the subject of the lecture. However, results to date indicate that instructors must commit significant time and effort to make effective use of inclass computer technology 2 3. Studies have also shown an additional shortcoming of using laptops, namely that students can not effectively use keyboards for note-taking 3. This is especially true for engineering courses where the material is often mathematically and graphically intensive. On the surface, pen-based entry enabled by Windows XP based Tablet PCs promises to address the shortcomings noted above. However, given their recent introduction (Q1 2003), there have been no studies to show their effectiveness in an academic environment. This paper discusses the author’s experience in content development and instruction using the Tablet PC. The evolution of the pedagogy and lessons learned over an academic year are presented along with student feedback. In addition, the co-author provides a student’s perspective in using the device both in and out of class.

The Tablet PC for Course Content Development

For content development, the main advantage of the pen-based technology is that notes, equations and graphics can be hand-written and captured in an electronic form. These electronic course notes can be easily edited to incorporate interactive multimedia content such as Internet links, simulation routines, audio, images and video or simply to update/correct the material. Clearly such content can be embedded in, for example, Microsoft Word or Power Point files. However due to the equation and graphic intensive nature of the engineering discipline, such content development becomes tedious due to the constraints of keyboard/mouse-based equation editors and drawing utilities.

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Zurn, J. B., & Frolik, J. (2004, June), Evaluation Of Tablet Pcs For Engineering Instruction And Content Development Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13125

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