Enhanced Teaching using the Tablet PC

Proposal Due Date: October 9, 2006



The Tablet PC can significantly change the way teachers interact with students and has the ability to dramatically alter the educational process.  The ability to integrate a digital pen and ink into the classroom to write, sketch, draw or annotate creates a more natural way to work with documents.  Recent advancements in Tablet technology and wireless networking have allowed us to integrate these new communication and collaboration resources.  We must now assess how this will affect learning.  Several questions arise as to how to use tablets for teaching.  How does a tablet alter interaction in a classroom? How will a teacher-only tablet class differ from a setting where all students have a tablet?  Will this affect the content of the course? Will new strategies and pedagogies developed in one class be applicable to other disciplines?  The e-Learning Center would like to study these questions by extending the opportunity for faculty members to receive one or more Tablet PCs to pilot use in teaching courses that would benefit from this technology.

Larry MacPhee
Associate Director
e-Learning Center
PO Box 5682



A wide variety of disciplines are embracing Tablet PCs and similar pen-based devices as tools for the radical enhancement of teaching and learning.  Deployments of Tablet PCs have spanned the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels and have dealt with an amazingly diverse range of subject areas including nursing, veterinary science, geology, ethno-musicology, anthropology, landscape architecture, writing, mathematics, computer science, Japanese language, physics, engineering, art, economics, as well as others.  Despite the diversity of content areas, many deployments have been similar in terms of the passion they have generated among students and teachers. Our quest is to assess the effects on learning.

Award Package

The e-Learning Center is offering hardware, software, training, and limited funds to support faculty to develop, implement and evaluate novel teaching methodologies using Tablet PCs. Along with the hardware, personalized technical training and assistance with project implementation will be provided.  The hardware will consist of one Hewlett-Packard TC4200 Tablet PC (and/or a 20 tablet mobile computer lab for proposals that follow Track 3). Small stipends may be available in rare cases for a project with promising outcomes and affecting a large number of students.

3 Tracks for possible awards

Individual support for teaching (one tablet for one instructor)

Proposals that support efforts for:

  • Use of the Tablet PC for dissemination of course content via instructor usage in class
  • Use of the Tablet PC to engage student interaction with the Instructor during the class
  • Feedback, editing and grading students papers and reports

Some examples for ideas that fit this category would be:

  • Annotating PowerPoint presentations with digital ink
  • Digital whiteboard activities which can be recorded, saved and made available for students as a future review and study resource
  • Digital ink editing and commenting on papers and reports using Microsoft Word
  • Real-time engagement of students understanding by having a students sketch an abstract concept which will be visible to all on the projector screen

Team support for teaching using Tablet PCs with a group of faculty (one tablet per instructor)

Proposals that support efforts to:

  • Standardize content delivery involving multiple sections and multiple instructors
  • Engage students in tablet based exercises through a team taught class

Some examples for ideas that fit this category would be:

  • Inserting “whiteboard slides” into MS PowerPoint files which allow students to see how a mathematical equation is derived or Japanese character is formed.
  • Delivering tablet content in a field course where one instructor may use it for geographic overview of an area using GIS software and another instructor may use another tablet in the field to show GPS location and related data.

Support for class based activities using a mobile tablet cart (up to 20 tablets)

Proposals that support efforts to:

  • Provide all students in the class the opportunity to use tablets during each session for individual activities
  • Gather into small groups in large enrollment classes with each group using a tablet for projects
  • Use tablets for rapid response activities that involve sketching, writing or diagramming.
  • Encourage technology sharing to ensure regular use of equipment.

Some examples for ideas that fit this category would be:

  • Have students find, explore and map impact craters on the surface of the earth by finding locations on the web and exploring the craters with Google Earth and mapping with digital ink
  • Allow students to instantaneously contribute to classroom lectures through wireless transfer of diagrams and sketches such as a calculus equation, chemical compound or mental maps.
  • Situations where a group of faculty share the cart within a department or college.

Assessment of Learning Outcomes Using Tablet PCs

Grantees will be expected to develop and implement an assessment plan for their Tablet PC project. Areas of assessment may include: surveys to students and affected faculty, evaluations of specific Tablet-based learning activities, assessment of the general impact of Tablet PCs on the curriculum and program. Grantees are expected to collaborate with the e-Learning Center (contact Walter Nolan) to formulate their assessment plans.

Proposal Format

(Proposals need not be more than 2-3 pages)
  • Cover page
  • Project narrative
  • Project deliverables
  • Plan for evaluating effectiveness of the project
  • Dissemination of project results
  • Project timetable
  • PI and participants
  • For Track 3: details about where the mobile cart will be kept secure while not in use, and commitment of local support staff to assist with equipment maintenance and support as needed.

Other Available Funding

Distance Learning also provides up to $5,000 stipends to faculty for developing or redesigning fully online Blackboard Bb Vista versions of new or existing courses (e.g., converting a traditional course into Blackboard Bb Vista).