Tablet PCs in Engineering Education
Microsoft released the Tablet PC interface several years ago. This platform allows users to more naturally interact with a computer by using a pen in addition to other input devices. It also allows for the use of digital ink as a datatype within applications. This additional pen interaction and digital ink can improve the interaction of both students and faculty with the PC. Some potential applications of Tablet PCs in education include:
- Classroom presentations which incorporate handwritten notes on PowerPoint or Classroom Presenter slides;
- Electronic grading of papers with digital ink;
- Digital note taking and sharing of handwritten notes;
- Improved development of digital media through the use of the pen interface with drawing or CAD applications;
- Development of rapid eLearning applications which can incorporate handwritten examples; and
- In class collaboration between faculty and students with portable computers.
This study is designed to investigate the potential benefits and challenges encountered by students and faculty members when using Tablet PCs. In Fall 2005, we will focus on the use of Tablet PCs by faculty members in Architectural Engineering along with several graduate students to determine the applications and functions that improve their teaching, learning, and research initiatives. Faculty and students will complete a survey before and after the semester. They will also report any issues encountered using the Table PCs throughout the semester.
In Spring 2006, we will focus on the development of a collaborative classroom within the ICon Lab using Tablet PCs as an integral tool within one graduate level course (AE 597F - Virtual Facility Prototyping). The Access Grid will be used to organize the faculty and student collaboration during the class and VNC will be used so that any student in the classroom will be able to share their screen with the entire class. The value of this collaborative learning environment will be assessed.
Throughout these two semesters, the applications used, functions performed, benefits gained, and challenges faced by the users will be documented and explored so that future applications of Tablet PCs within educational environments can be better designed.
- Microsoft Office for Tablet PC - Adds the ability to use digital ink in MS Office applications.
- Microsoft OneNote 2003- An note taking program that allows you to capture, organize and save either handwritten or typed notes.
- Microsoft Experience Pack - Includes the Ink Desktop, Snipping Tool, Ink Art, Media Transfer and other applications.
- Microsoft Education Pack - Includes Equation Writer, Ink Flash Cards, Send to OneNote, and a trial version of GoBinder planning software.
- Microsoft PowerToys for Tablet - Includes many small applications designed for the Tablet interface.
- Microsoft Journal - Allows for the markup and distribution of documents with ink as well as note taking.
- Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator - Allows for the easy modification and development of images using the pen interface.
- Classroom Presenter 2.0 - Presentation software designed for collaborative views
- Google Sketchup 6 - A 3D CAD application that is designed around the tablet interface. It is very easy to learn and use. Faculty members can request a free license for use in their class.
Additional software installed on the Tablet PCs which are not specifically designed to use the tablet interface includes:
- Autodesk Revit - 3D Building Information Modeling application.
- Autodesk AutoCAD - CAD applications.
- Navisworks Jetstream - 3D Model Review Application
- UltraVNC - Screen and file sharing software that can be used for collaboration. This software can also allow remote connection of a tablet PC to a computer with a projector.
Additional software links can be found here.
If you have any questions or feedback, please contact John Messner.