Image of ICON Lab

Tablet PCs in Engineering Education

Project Partners: Penn State Information Technology Services (ITS), Department of Architectural Engineering and School of Arts and Architecture

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:

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.

The software installed on the Gateway M275 Tablet PCs (installed on the Microsoft XP Tablet PC Edition 2005) includes :

Additional software installed on the Tablet PCs which are not specifically designed to use the tablet interface includes:

Additional software links can be found here.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact John Messner.

Penn State