TLT Symposium at Penn State — Tablet PCs

I have spent the day at the PSU Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium. Among other things, I am sitting here in the presentation for using the Tablet PCs in education. The panel is comprised (completely) of engineers. It is interesting how the Engineering Community has latched on to this technology as an extension/transition from the blackboard to the tablet.

One major input: The students like the professor “facing” the students. Additional: They like the use of colors to highlight information.

What strikes me here, along with much of the conference, is how we are discussing ways of moving what we do, and making ourselves “more productive” with new technologies but not necessarily doing “new things.”

The faculty have made good use of the existing software to deliver their content. For instance, they don’t have any fancy “education software” to present the information, but rather have used Windows Journal to combine (pre) written text with charts diagrams, and “spontaneous” hand written notes to step through the lectures.

Back in “the day” I had professors that would essentially do the same thing. They would write out their notes, then scan them as PDFs , and either email or post them to a website.

The Mech Engineer professor has found that class attendance has dropped significantly. He suspects that it is because he posts the completed documents to the course website after the lectures. To me that is a “significant” finding since I haven’t seen a drop in attendance in my classes even though I post the PowerPoint slides, and record and post my lectures as podcasts.

The final professor with a presentation actually says he “records” his presentations, so that he can make it available for downloads. He uses a software package called “Centra” and records everything as he works through the lecture with the students in the classroom.

Interestingly, he has put forward that he would like to see all the students have tablets as well, so they can all begin to work in the classroom collaboratively.

I do have a few comments about Web 2.0 and the Symposium, but I will post those “later.”

Bolting the Tablet to the Podium??  Believe it or not, there actually are people in favor of this sort of thing.  It is the classic conflict between the institution’s desire to protect assets and the faculty desire to have mobility in the classroom.


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