Richard Anderson - Interactive teaching with Tablet PCs at University of Washington

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Description

Recently I visited Richard Anderson's classroom at the University of Washington and watched how he used Tablet PCs to teach his computer science class. It is really cool. Students can send him notes, post their thoughts, and interact with him, via their Tablet PCs. This technology came out of Microsoft Research's ConferenceXP Project and the UW Classroom Presenter has a site which has more details and downloads too. The first minute of the video shows off his classroom then we start an interview with Richard and a few others who use or helped build the Classroom Presenter.

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The Discussion

  • User profile image
    Zeo
    Cool to see Tablet Pcs being used sucessfully in higher education!
  • User profile image
    Manip

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ... The "combat shyness" statement is absurd. In work are they going to have anonymous table PCs in the board room? ...

  • User profile image
    Zeo
    Manip wrote:

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ...



    One big plus is spell check on the ink you write, that was a killer feature that helped me when I took tests with my tablet and made my essays more readable for my profs...which I'd argue made their lives easier and helped me get better grades. Big Smile
  • User profile image
    Manip
    Zeo wrote:
    Manip wrote:

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ...



    One big plus is spell check on the ink you write, that was a killer feature that helped me when I took tests with my tablet and made my essays more readable for my profs...which I'd argue made their lives easier and helped me get better grades.


    It might have been a long time since you were at University but today they don't accept hand written essays at all and you aren't expected to write them in class either.

    Some exams are computerised, some aren't... But either way that isn't graded as long as they can understand what your trying to say.

  • User profile image
    Zeo
    Manip wrote:
    Zeo wrote:
    Manip wrote:

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ...



    One big plus is spell check on the ink you write, that was a killer feature that helped me when I took tests with my tablet and made my essays more readable for my profs...which I'd argue made their lives easier and helped me get better grades.


    It might have been a long time since you were at University but today they don't accept hand written essays at all and you aren't expected to write them in class either.

    Some exams are computerised, some aren't... But either way that isn't graded as long as they can understand what your trying to say.



    I graduated from University last year...so it hasn't been that long.

    And yes when I had to take exams during the class periods we had to write out lengthy lengthy essays especially during exams(3 hours) so I talked with my professors extensively and gained permission to use my toshiba tablet in 3 of my classes(I was taking 7).
     
    And I had one CS professor who actually deduced "syntax" points on exams because he believed that if you spelling was just as important as proper C++.

    He was a real hardass but I learned alot and he saw the benefit of having students take exams on tablets.  
  • User profile image
    jorgen_veis​dal
    ----------------
  • User profile image
    koorb
    Manip wrote:

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ... The "combat shyness" statement is absurd. In work are they going to have anonymous table PCs in the board room? ...



    Of course grades will benefit because it is engaged learning.
  • User profile image
    scobleizer

    There are four schools in France that are using Tablet PCs too. Here's an article on that (in French): http://www.tabletpccorner.net/revue_96.html

  • User profile image
    papavb
    I know this is the obvious question , but are the large amounts of money it takes to furnish schools with this cool tech worth the end product.

    And maybe it is because books would cost a lot less if they weren't printed but pdf'ed (I copyrighted that by the way) + less trees would die everyone wins.

    Ijust answered myself sry. I think tablets are a plausible future
  • User profile image
    zokbari
    I think the important point of this class is not a usage of tablet PC.
    The contents of class. we can see the class contents about "usability of tablet PC". that's a good approach to UW, because UW & MS is a tightly coupled (I think) organization.
  • User profile image
    johndotcom
    everyone on our college campus right here in good ol' SD, USA uses tabletPC's, and there is definatly a need not only to get the students to buy into the whole thing, but more importantly, the faculty, because if they arent using it, students won't

    biggest use i have seen with standard Journal/OneNote is note taking, works especially well in math/science courses
  • User profile image
    Manip
    koorb wrote:
    Of course grades will benefit because it is engaged learning.


    Is it?

    According to that video not all students turn in answers and those that do don't always do what was asked.

    Engagement is a two way street and I can't really see this scale up very well... It can of course scale down but so too can a white-board just as easily...
  • User profile image
    liridon shala

    Great chenages on the education style, hops will be usfull for the students there !

  • User profile image
    Massif
    liridon shala wrote:

    Great chenages on the education style, hops will be usfull for the students there !



    I feel cruel laughing at that - but still.

    I have to say, as a complete technophile that I'm not convinced computers have a place in school anywhere other than in the IT class. I'm pretty damn sure that funding books and more teachers is more cost effective. Plus you have to consider that education isn't about learning knowledge - it's about learning skills. Social skills, communication skills and assertiveness are all important things to learn at school. How does a tablet PC help there?
  • User profile image
    Manip
    Yeah.

    For the most part I took the blinders off a few years ago... Nothing is as black and white as it appeared at the time ("Microsoft Evil", "Linux Secure", "Windows Unstable", "Technology Good", "Paper < Laptop < Tablet PC" etc).

    And after you start reexamining your perceptions you find holes all over the place... For example everyone in my University lectures using their laptops for things other than taking notes (e.g. Games, Internet Browsing, Programming etc).

    All replacing paper with tablets does is add more barriers to entry on to learning... Meaning it is harder for people to learn because they have things to learn or to master. And then if you add on "Messing around" ... Well you get the idea.

    My last argument against them is that I have never found writing on a Tablet PC as effient as writing on paper (Speed wise) even if you do understand the technology. You can't write as small, and you can't flick pages as fast. I mean for drawings it is great but for typing it isn't there yet IMHO.

    Thus Tablet PC with Keyboard might be the best bet but even then it still isn't in par with paper.
  • User profile image
    Escamillo
    Manip wrote:
    Zeo wrote:
    Manip wrote:

    I would expect to see grades go down...

    I really would like to hear the advantages over paper and pen? ...



    One big plus is spell check on the ink you write, that was a killer feature that helped me when I took tests with my tablet and made my essays more readable for my profs...which I'd argue made their lives easier and helped me get better grades.


    It might have been a long time since you were at University but today they don't accept hand written essays at all and you aren't expected to write them in class either.

    Some exams are computerised, some aren't... But either way that isn't graded as long as they can understand what your trying to say.

    You've taken no classes that used essay exams???
  • User profile image
    j0217995
    My major was Social Studies (studied to be a high school teacher) and all of my exams in my major were blue book essay exams. In fact most of the time it took multiple blue books to answer the questions. I had one prof that I never finished his exam during the 3 hours that were given, none us of finished on time. Brings back memories
  • User profile image
    W3bbo
    TabletPCs still have plenty of shortcomings with the resolution of the screen and digitzer. I know they've made savings by using the last generation of Wacom's Qintiq technology, but it really doesn't do the platform justice.

    TabletPCs really need to have twice the screen and digitizer resolution they have now if you want to use them for "natural" handwriting, as well as a smaller "air-space" gap between the screen protector and the screen itself. It doesn't seem right when looking at the TPC from an angle and the stylus nib is about 5mm away from the cursor on the screen.

    ...screen brightness is also a problem, even when on full-brightness the screen is hard to see outside.
  • User profile image
    Van

    "I have to say, as a complete technophile that I'm not convinced computers have a place in school anywhere other than in the IT class. I'm pretty damn sure that funding books and more teachers is more cost effective. Plus you have to consider that education isn't about learning knowledge - it's about learning skills. Social skills, communication skills and assertiveness are all important things to learn at school. How does a tablet PC help there?"

    Aside from realizing that the TabletPC still needs some improvement (touch screen rather than digitizer, better & faster multiple doc mgmt), I couldn't disagree with you more.

    I think that maybe the Key is not to think of this as being "TabletPC's in the class", but as an improved method for the Teacher to monitor the class's progress, for instance where with these in the classroom, students will be able to get real time answers in the midst of a lecture, where a Teacher's Assistant could answer low level questions and bring those students back into line with the lecturer, whereas before they would be drifting off into the fog, or interupting the lecture and interfering with others ability to comprehend the material.

    A good Lecturer/TA combo, would be so much better able to keep the class's level of understanding in line with the lecture, and direct the class towards more towards achieving the goal of the class.

    "I'm pretty damn sure that funding books and more teachers is more cost effective"

    Seriously?!
    I've got 350 "books" in my PocketPC alone - classics, recent publications, "textbooks", etc. Their cost in standard paper books would be massive, not to mention being completely impractical to use. If a question comes up on Shakespeare or Newton or most anything else, I've got relevant material literaly in my hands, to find answers with. The TabletPC (and hopefully the upcoming UMPC) has far more capability.

    Can't you imagine what a good prof, with real understanding of the material could do to direct a class towards a broader understanding of their material, as opposed to being bound to the number of materials a student can fit into their backpack or retrieve from the library? And how about class based blogs & discussion forums monitored by the Lecturer/TA?

    "All replacing paper with tablets does is add more barriers to entry on to learning... Meaning it is harder for people to learn because they have things to learn or to master. And then if you add on "Messing around" ... Well you get the idea."

    A proper use of technology in the classroom won't add bariers to learning, but free the student/teacher from current barriers of time (interupting lectures for isolated questions) and space (available materials & interaction with teacher/TA & rest of class long after leaving class).

    As far as students "Messing around" in class; for those that do because they got hopelessly lost in the lecture, they'd now have a way of gettng questions answered as needed and help keep them involved and up to speed. For other students that are messing around just because they're fools... technology can't help them, and maybe they'll be so involved in their own foolishness that they won't bother the rest of the class.

    "education isn't about learning knowledge - it's about learning skills. Social skills, communication skills and assertiveness are all important things to learn at school."

    Sorry, but IMHO that's sounds mostly like Ed School silliness. Education is about not only learning knowledge, but then integrating it with the rest of your knowledge, opinions & your life. Life is where you learn Social skills, communication skills and assertiveness - if you haven't picked them up by your teens, I don't see any Institutional school helping you out much there... other than maybe what may follow from a more involved experience and dialoge with your Teacher, and fellow students... which this kind of creative use of Technology might be able to help draw you into.

  • User profile image
    SYAORAN LI

    We study with table PC is very useful. It can not only help us learn better, but also make our study easier. We know this is an advanced technological era, computer is getting more and more popluar. So it is necessary for us to use in the class. 

  • User profile image
    asqui

    Cool video. It's nice to see this technology being adopted so well. Unfortunately advanced concepts of computer science, such as HCI, security, etc. seem to be somewhat neglected in my course.

    On another note, that lecturer sure seems to say "yo" quite a lot!

  • User profile image
    slickbrick
    This aint fair!! we never got to use tablet PCs at my high school OR college, (ashworth university) which hindered my learning process lol.


    -Thomas Tooma

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