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Macroergonomic Analysis of Instructional Technology Adoption: A Case Study on Tablet PC Adoption

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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

22.1030.1 - 22.1030.17



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Paper Authors


Leanna M. Horton Virginia Tech

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Leanna Horton is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Industrial and Systems Engineering Department at Virginia Tech and is a member of the Industrial Ergonomics and Biomechanics Laboratory. Her research is focused on the effects of job rotation on muscle fatigue and performance.

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Kahyun Kim Virginia Tech

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Kahyun Kim is a graduate student currently pursuing Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering at Virginia Tech with a concentration on human factors and ergonomics. Her research interest is in the impact of various factors on team collaboration and effectiveness as well as team cognition.

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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

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Catherine T. Amelink, Virginia Tech.
Dr. Catherine Amelink is currently serving as the Research Coordinator for the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning at Virginia Tech and Assessment Coordinator for the College of Engineering in the Office of the Associate Dean for International Programs and Information Technology. Previously she worked on assessment initiatives with the Division of Student Affairs and the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Education at Virginia Tech and as the Assessment Coordinator for undergraduate
education at University of Maryland University College. She is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech.

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Macroergonomic Analysis of Instructional Technology Adoption: A Case Study on Tablet PC AdoptionInstructional technologies are widely used to improve classroom dynamics and foster learning.At Virginia Tech (VT), the College of Engineering (COE) has continually emphasized the use ofinstructional technologies as an important part of the educational experience. Tablet PCs havebeen implemented as an instructional tool at many universities, including VT, with varyingdegrees of success. These universities have identified many educational benefits associatedwith the use of Tablet PCs, including increased student engagement, more efficient lecturepresentations, and overall improved learning experiences, yet difficulties have been reportedregarding adoption of the technology. In order to fully assess the Tablet PC program at VT anddetermine its current level of success and future potential, a mixed-method investigation of theprogram was conducted. This analysis explored student and faculty usage of Tablet PCs,including benefits and barriers associated with Tablet PC use, through interviews with facultymembers (n = 4), focus groups with undergraduate students (n = 21), an online survey toundergraduate students (n = 1090), and a sociotechnical systems analysis of the COE. Resultsindicated many improvements in student learning related to Tablet PC use as well as severalbarriers toward adoption affecting both faculty and students. Notable benefits associated withTablet PC use included increased student engagement, improved visualization features, morestreamlined classroom presentations/note taking, and better opportunities for collaboration.Reported barriers included a lack of incentives, traditional classroom infrastructure, perceivedincompatibility with preferred learning/teaching methods, and challenges withhardware/software. Overall, Tablet PC adoption has been inconsistent among both faculty andstudents, with some enthusiastically utilizing Tablet PCs and others continuing to use oldertechnologies; reasons for this are discussed as this finding is consistent with previous research.Suggestions for improving usage of Tablet PCs as well as other forms of instructionaltechnology are discussed, along with recommendations for successful large-scale adoption offuture instructional technologies. In addition, assessment methodologies for examining diffusionof instructional technology across a college setting are shared.

Horton, L. M., & Kim, K., & Kothaneth, S., & Amelink, C. T. (2011, June), Macroergonomic Analysis of Instructional Technology Adoption: A Case Study on Tablet PC Adoption Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18310

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