Tablet PC changes classroom dynamics

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I am continually fascinated by what education tools and applications people see as valuable. But my favorite part is hearing stories about once people have learned about something new to them and then start exploring and acting on "what if I do…?"

Christopher Dawson writes on his ZDNet blog about a recent Tablet PC in the classroom experience:

There are about 20 students in the class and we all sat around several large tables pushed together. The professor sat with us, facilitating easy discussion, and, instead of using a chalkboard or whiteboard, simply wrote notes on his tablet. He easily changed colors, highlighted important materials, moved back and forth between sections of the lecture (just pages in the notetaking software), and copied and pasted relevant figures, all while projecting on a large screen.

Later last night, the lecture notes were all up on the web. Bingo.

Exactly! The instructor’s Tablet PC influenced the way the entire class was able to interact with the lecture content from in-class participation to review. It can potentially help you be more efficient and stay focused on learning the content versus keeping up with the subject at hand.

Here are some things for you to keep in mind:

  • Tablet features are now fully integrated into Windows Vista Premium SKUs, so if you do decide to get a new Tablet PC then it’s not a "different edition" anymore. You can use Windows Vista Business, Home Premium, or Ultimate.
  • Handwritten notes are searchable. That’s right, even if you have hundreds of pages of notes you can search through them just like you do with typed text.
  • Handwriting to text conversion is optional. If you’re annotating a presentation, you don’t have to worry about converting to typed text. You can probably read your own writing, so go ahead and leave your handwritten notes in ink.
  • You can draw diagrams, flowcharts, quick charts and other things in-line with your other notes versus switching to a special tool.

I also suggest that students help each other out with learning to use the technology and a good place to start is The Student Tablet PC blog and forum.

If you’re an instructor looking at how to integrate into the classroom, then WIPTE, DyKnow’s new community forums, Teachers Using Technology, Tablet PC Education Blog, and all the regular mobile PC forums are a good place to start picking up on advanced tips and tricks.