Transforming Teaching and Learning with Tablet PCs
A Web Report for the 2006 HP
Technology for Teaching Higher Education Grant
to Babson College

Abstract
Faculty involved
Impact on student Learning
    Fall 2006 formal experiment
    Follow-up spring 2007
    On-going courses impacted
Impact on Teaching
Technology Integration
Quick Facts
Project Visibility
Student Voices

 

Abstract

This project examines the advantages of using Tablet PCs both inside and outside the classroom as alternatives to laptops, PCs, and pencil and paper.  In particular the following hypotheses are explored: 

1. The classroom use of Tablet PCs affords our instructors advantages in mobility over the use of a laptop that currently tethers our instructors to the computer station at the front of the classroom. 
2. The classroom use of Tablet PCs affords our students the ability to access the teaching materials developed by the class/instructor interactions during class and made available post-class by being captured electronically from writing on Tablet PCs rather than the transient nature of being written on the blackboard. 
3. Students will spend more productive time reading and studying course material if it is made more convenient by being available on a Tablet PC as compared to a laptop or in printed form. 
4. The ability to make handwritten comments and especially graphical annotations on course material on Tablet PCs enhances the students’ educational experience more than the traditional use of pencil and paper or typewritten notes.  

 

Faculty

Grant Recipients Other Faculty The Class in Action
David P. Kopcso (Principal Investigator)
kopcso@babson.edu
 and William H. Rybolt
rybolt@babson.edu

Mathematics and Science Department
Babson College, Babson Park, MA, USA
                                   02457-0310
Lidija Polutnik
Economic Division Chairperson

George Recck
Mathematics Resource Center Director

Gregory E. Truman
 

 

Impact on Student Learning

A formal experiment was conducted involving the Data and Decision Modeling course, QTM8400, required of all Evening MBA students at Babson College.  This course is an introduction to basic quantitative tools that enable managers to analyze data and make informed decisions.  Topics include descriptive analysis of survey data, introductory probability, decision analysis, sampling and sampling distributions, hypothesis testing, simple and multiple regression, simulation, and optimization.  Case studies drawn from marketing, finance, and operations management, illustrate the use of these quantitative tools in applied context.  The course requires use of spreadsheets and statistical, optimization, and simulation software.  

In fall 2006 one of two sections of QTM8400, Babson's required MBA quantitative course, had the same instructor use the Tablet PC as a tablet while the other had him use the Tablet PC as a laptop. Instead of writing on the blackboard, all work was projected in the classroom, captured with Camtasia® (which was purchased along with a Jabra Bluetooth headset with funds from the grant), and posted to a web site available to the students. Since the class size cap is 50 for each section, not all students could be given Tablet PCs to use.  In the Tablet PC section fourteen students volunteered to use the Tablet PCs.  To receive their Tablet PC the students needed to agree to a contract with Babson.  All other students used their own laptops.  Roughly one hour of the two-and-a-half hour class consists of an Active Learning exercise. The instructor was able to project individual group work for discussion and critique by the class in order to share with the entire class a teaching moment that would otherwise be available only to the one individual group. A more productive use of classroom time was thereby made, ensuring a deeper understanding of the topic before class ended and reducing the outside of class time commitment necessary to master the subject matter. Web-based quizzes were used to determine current understanding.  Learning for those with and without the Tablet PCs was measured via examinations as well as web-based electronic quizzes, case preparations, team projects, and class participation.  A rigorous statistical analysis of the various groups' results was conducted and yielded the following results:

  1. There was no statistically significant difference in the average overall numerical term grade between the Tablet PC section and the non-Tablet PC section (p=0.4554) even when corrected for prior knowledge (p=0.6578).

  2. There was no statistically significant difference in the average overall numerical term grade between those who used the Tablet PCs and those who did not use the Tablet PCs in the same Tablet PC section (p=0.6535), even when corrected for prior knowledge (p=0.6250).

  3. There was no statistically significant difference in the average overall numerical term grade between a pre-grant, spring 2006, offering of QTM8400 by the same instructor and that of fall 2006 (p=0.3609).

  4. Since section sizes are capped at 50 and since there were only 20 Tablet PCs available, volunteer Tablet PC users were sought. Even though the 14 Tablet PC users were self-selected, there was no statistically significant difference in their prior knowledge as compared to those who did not select the Tablet PCs (p=0.8031).

An anonymous student opinion survey was distributed and completed in the last week of classes.  The results of this survey are not available to the instructor until after the term grades are submitted.  Consequently, they reflect an additional amount of validity.  The survey and the results follow:

Survey for QTM 8400 Fall 2006
             
  1 2 3 4 5 scale  
  Strongly Agree       Agree                Neutral              Disagree             Strongly Disagree    Did not use it Mean
1. I found the ecommerce.babson.edu/8400 web site useful. 23 13 5 0 0 0 1.56
2. I found the Video Tutorials posted before the lecture useful. 31 9 1 0 0 0 1.27
3. I found the Video Lectures posted after the lecture useful. 21 8 5 0 0 7 1.53
4. I found the Annotated PowerPoint Slides posted after the lecture useful. 16 15 4 0 0 5 1.66
5. I found the Active Learning lab/cases useful. 10 20 11 0 0 0 2.02
6. I found the On-line Quizzes useful. 16 14 11 0 0 0 1.88
  laptop tablet neither n/a      
7. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for use in a quantitative course. 16 20 2 3      
8. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for use in a non-quantitative course. 23 13 2 3      
9. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for general use. 24 12 1 4      
               
Please complete the following sections if you were able to take advantage of the HP Tablet loaner. 1 2 3 4 5  scale  
  Strongly Agree       Agree                Neutral              Disagree             Strongly Disagree    Did not use it mean
10. I found the HP Tablet to be useful as a laptop. 5 5 4 0 0 27 1.93
11. I found the HP Tablet to be useful as a Tablet to write on. 7 5 1 0 0 28 1.54
12. I found the HP Tablet to be too heavy. 0 2 4 7 1 27 3.50
13. I found the HP Tablet’s screen to be too sensitive to glare. 3 7 3 1 0 27 2.14
             
14. List three things you liked about the Tablet PC:
  • Ability to write freehand was useful especially on PowerPoint (5).
  • Very easy interface – touch very natural (4).
  • Ability to switch from tablet to laptop mode.
  • Ability to take notes with pen & inking feature (4).
  • Compact size, lightweight, high speed, and easy to carry (4).
  • Cover swiveled, size and weight, turned off automatically (2).
  • Pen, rotating screen and size.
  • Can write notes during class.
  • Helpful with collaborative work.
  • Appropriate size and power.
  • Showing it to my 88 year old Grandma.
  • Built-in wireless.
  • Battery Life.
15. List three things you did not like about the Tablet PC:
  • Screen difficult to read – too dim. (6)
  • Not flexible, quick to switch between the pen and the keyboard. (2)
  • External DVD/CD drive. (2)
  • Overheating issues and constantly froze. (2)
  • Pen was difficult. (2)
  • Larger keyboard and larger icons would be useful. (2)
  • Took getting used to.
  • If you close (or almost close) the PC will go to “stand by”.
  • Not easy to enter values in a cell in Excel in tablet mode.
  • Inability to capture writing into word.
  • Searching for ways to type navigate when in tablet mode.
  • Wireless connection.
  • The battery did not last long.
  • It’s not mine!
16. List three recommendations relative to future use of the Tablet PC:
  • Improve screen: brighten. (2)
  • Improve freehand to text software.
  • Internal DVD/CD drive.
  • Slot on side to hold pencil/pen.
  • Directions to use pen needs to be more user-friendly.
  • Teach students all extra features.
  • Helpfully get them prior to first class in order to have time to take the tutorial and get used to the features.
  • Add software available for tablet functions.
  • Make pen easier to use.
  • Make the battery more powerful.
  • Key buttons for changing between presentations.
  • It would very useful at my own company.
  • Should be free to the class.
17. Other insights:
·        Very helpful in the class format for lectures.
·        It made reviewing the material much easier when taking notes on the slides.
·        The Tablet is useful for course work when we take notes during class.
·        Great tool to have especially the pen when working on projects.
 

 

In spring 2007 to compensate for only 20 Tablet PCs being available a different design was implemented to expose a greater number of individuals to the Tablet PC experience.  Each team in each of the two sections of the same Babson required MBA quantitative course was given a Tablet PC with one team member being "responsible" for the Tablet PC.  Again all work done in class was captured with Camtasia® and made available for viewing via flash files on the class web site for both sections.  A similar but different anonymous student opinion survey was distributed and completed in the last week of classes during the spring 2007 semester.  The results of this survey are not made available to the instructor until after the term grades are submitted.  The survey and the various students' opinions of the Tablet PCs from both sections are given below:

Survey for QTM 8400 Spring 2007
             
  1 2 3 4 5 scale  
  Strongly Agree       Agree                Neutral              Disagree             Strongly Disagree    Did not use it mean
1. I found the ecommerce.babson.edu/8400 web site useful. 31 19 3 0 0 0 1.47
2. I found the Video Tutorials posted before the lecture useful. 30 18 4 1 0 0 1.55
3. I found the Video Lectures posted after the lecture useful. 38 9 3 0 0 3 1.30
4. I found the Annotated PowerPoint Slides posted after the lecture useful. 21 15 12 0 0 5 1.81
5. I found the Active Learning lab/cases useful. 19 26 6 2 0 0 1.83
  laptop tablet neither n/a      
6. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for use in a quantitative course. 37 12 0 3      
7. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for use in a non-quantitative course. 36 11 1 4      
8. If I had a choice in the future, I would choose a (circle one) laptop, tablet PC, or neither for general use. 37 9 1 5      
              Yes No          
9. I was able to directly use the HP Tablet assigned to my group.  (circle one)  Yes   No   25 28          
               
Please complete the following sections if you were able to take advantage of the HP Tablet loaner. 1 2 3 4 5 scale  
  Strongly Agree       Agree                Neutral              Disagree             Strongly Disagree    Did not use it mean
10. I found the HP Tablet to be useful as a laptop. 5 5 4 0 0 27 1.93
11. I found the HP Tablet to be useful as a Tablet to write on. 7 5 1 0 0 28 1.54
12. I found the HP Tablet to be too heavy. 0 2 4 7 1 27 3.50
13. I found the HP Tablet’s screen to be too sensitive to glare. 3 7 3 1 0 27 2.14
               
14. List three things you liked about the Tablet PC:
Ability to write on to take notes (7)
Small size (4)
Ease of use (3)
Good for PowerPoint presentations (3)
Pen (2)
Small, light (2)
Use by Professor
Swivel
Fun toy
Switch between PC and laptop
Use for drawing and charting
Speed
 
15. List three things you did not like about the Tablet PC:
Too heavy (6)
Had to carry two computers (2)
Slow
Too few
Limited use
Pen controls
Connectors in awkward places
Nothing
Screen too dark
Battery capacity limited
 
16. List three recommendations relative to future use of the Tablet PC:
More easily convert handwriting to text
Bigger screen
More instruction on use
 
17. Other insights:
Good for group viewing

 

Additional Courses Impacted

In summer 2006, 2007, and 2008, an unteathered Tablet PC was used to deliver the three day intensive QEB (Quantitative and Economics Basics) to 65 beginning MBA students.  The nature of this course is highly quantitative and interactive.  Each day consists of eight contact hours with roughly four one-and-one-half hour sessions taught interactively by both David Kopcso (the grant principal investigator) and Lidija Polutnik (Chairperson of the Economics Division at Babson) and followed by a 30 minute break-out period in which student teams solve problems.  Use of the Tablet PC eliminated using overhead transparencies for the interactive sessions and allowed a platform on which students as well as professors could write solutions directly.   By utilizing the Pegasus wireless corporation's WiJET hardware and software, the instructors' Tablet PCs can be passed around the classroom for individual students to write on, a modern version of "sending students to the blackboard".  The WijET.G is 802.11 compliant wireless device that links the Tablet PC to the projector (see http://www.pegasuswirelesscorp.com/products/wijetg.html for details).

In fall 2006 and 2007 an unteathered Tablet PC was used to deliver a series of "Fundamental Skills Sessions" to first-year MBA students in the first of the four Modules that comprise their first-year experience.  Again Instead of writing on the blackboard, all work was projected in the classroom, captured with Camtasia®, and posted to a web site available to the students.  Students were then able to review the quantitative techniques in a "just-in-time" manner throughout the remainder of their first-year experience.

In summer 2007 Tablet PCs are being used by David Kopcso in two sections of an elective MBA-level Web Technologies course.  In these sections, some students are using the Tablet PCs as well as the instructor.  Additionally George Recck, the Director of the Mathematics Resource Center, is using an HP Tablet PC in teaching a section of QTM8400, Babson's required MBA quantitative course.

 

Impact on Teaching

The classroom use of Tablet PCs affords instructors mobility over the use of laptops that currently tether our instructors to the computer station at the front of the room.  In addition to the untethered use of the Tablet PCs to project teacher and student questions, solutions, and presentations, all materials are electronically captured via Camtasia® and posted to a web site for student review. This is especially important to our student body since essentially all are full-time employees with various work and travel commitments. Having an electronic copy of what had transpired during the class sessions enables the instructor to analyze his/her presentations in retrospect of students' questions and their performance thereby allowing the instructor to improve her/his delivery and course content.  Likewise students were impressed with the ability to review materials throughout the duration of the course and some have asked if the class videos could be available throughout their careers at Babson and beyond!  After the first week, Rob Swint, Retail Marketing Manager, Kronos Incorporated, declared “The class recordings are amazing – I’ve never seen that done before.”  The total number of students impacted thus far by the various uses of the Tablet PCs by instructors as well as students is roughly 350.

In relation to a question on Jim Vanides' Blog (http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/highered/archive/2006/10/20/1769.html), namely "With this technology at hand, one professor from the 2006 WIPTE conference (http://www.itap.purdue.edu/tlt/conference/wipte/) suggested that ALL lectures should be pre-recorded and viewed as homework, so that the “lecture time” could be converted into time focused on discussion and experimentation. Has anyone actually tried this yet?", David Kopcso is currently teaching the Data Analysis Stream of Babson's Fast Track MBA in which all but two of the lectures are pre-recorded.  This page will be kept informed of this course's progress. 

A side effect that may be of interest is that it became necessary to devise and utilize a "Statement of Informed Consent" as part of this grant's execution.  Reported in the findings above are only the results of those students who signed the consent statement, a copy of which is available through this link.

 

Technology Integration

Instructors use a TabletPC and the Portable HP Digital projector to display information that they would otherwise write on the blackboard. The wireless HP Access Point is used in the classroom to interact with the Internet and the students as the instructor moved about. Students and/or teams of students are issued the TabletPCs for use while they were taking the course. The digital camera is used to chronicle students usage patterns and preferences as well as to photograph various visual aides. The printer is used sparingly to produce required tangible materials. Use of the Tablet PC eliminated using overhead transparencies for the interactive sessions and allowed a platform on which students as well as professors could write solutions directly.   By utilizing the Pegasus wireless corporation's WiJET hardware and software, Tablet PCs can be passed around the classroom for individual students to write on, a modern version of "sending students to the blackboard".  We have had mixed results incorporating DyKnow software due to not being able to overcome technical issues.  We have also upgraded tablets to 2 gigabytes of memory and larger hard disks on which we have installed the Windows 7 RC1 operating system.  We have had much better character recognition with Windows 7 (and even with Vista) than we did with the XP Tablet edition operating system.

 

Quick Facts

Course

Discipline(s)

Number of Students

Number of Faculty

QTM8400

Data & Decision Modeling

225

2

MBA7210

Fundamental Quantitative Skills

 80

2

MBA7320

Opportunity Assessment (Interdisciplinary)

165

2
MBA7330 Designing & Managing Delivery Systems (Interdisciplinary) 165  

QEB

Mathematics and Economics

 130

2

MRC

Mathematics

150

1
MBA 7515 Data Analysis (Distributed Learning) 200 1
MBA 7325 Decision Support Systems (Distributed Learning) 200 1
QTM 1300 Calculus 180 2
QTM 1310 Statistics 180 2

 

Project Visibility

On September 13, 2006, Babson sent out a press release about the 2006 HP Grant award: http://www3.babson.edu/Newsroom/Releases/HPGrant9-06.cfm.

On September 22, 2006, the MetroWest Daily News carried an article on the HP Grant, the Tablet and the QTM 8400 class with photos: http://www.metrowestdailynews.com/businessNews/view.bg?articleid=140988.

On September 28, 2006, the Wellesley Townsman carried an article about the HP Grant: http://www.townonline.com/wellesley/artsLifestyle/old_link_404

On Jim Vanides' Blog: http://h20325.www2.hp.com/blogs/highered/archive/2006/10/20/1769.html

On November 1, 2006, Eric Falko, HP Corporate Standards Group, visited our classroom and compiled this report.

The Knightlines, Vol. 6, No.1, Spring 2007, page 11, carried an article about the HP Grant.

Two articles are currently under production for outlets such as the International Journal in Education, International Journal of Innovation and Learning, Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, and the Collaboration Systems and Technology track of the Hawaii International Conference On System Sciences.

A paper entitled "Transforming Teaching and Learning with Tablet PCs" was delivered at the 2008 Hawaii International Conference on Education on January 5, 2008 by David Kopcso.

 

 

Student Voices

Rob, Retail Marketing Manager, Kronos Incorporated, declared “The class recordings are amazing – I’ve never seen that done before.”

Click on the "play button" on any of the three video clips below.  Please be patient; each video may take a few seconds to load initially.

Patrick's Video:

Avanish's Video:

:

Rama's Video:

:

Bill's Testimonial:
I used the HP Tablet Laptop PC for all of my coursework for the fall 2007 semester in the Babson College evening MBA program.  In general, I found the tablet features, especially the ability to draw over PowerPoint, quite helpful for class presentations.  It appears that classroom projectors can finally be a thing of the past.  The simple ability to underline a point on a presentation is great for bringing attention to a particular detail.  The tablet PC also allows us (the professor more than myself) to walk the classroom through mathematical equations and diagram explanations that would previously require the use of a chalkboard or an overhead.  It looks like this could be the end of chalkboards as well.
However, along with the new capabilities presented by the Tablet PC, there were also some problems.  I wanted to use the tablet for note taking, but to use it well I needed to reorient the screen, this makes it impossible to use the keyboard, and switching back and forth between the tablet setup and the regular set up takes more time than it is worth.  I’d rather just use paper.  This is also a problem while presenting if I wanted to reference a spreadsheet and use it to perform a calculation. 
I could not find any application for the ability to translate the tablet pen writing into computer letters.  I played with it a bit, and found it to be a bit slow and often incorrect on translating my less-than-perfect handwriting.  Also, the computer itself seemed a bit sluggish at times, although this may have less to do with the tablet feature and more to do with the processing power and memory.
Overall I found the tablet PC very useful for presentation.  The tablet helps draw attention to details within a slide and also can do everything that was once done with a chalkboard and an overhead.  The biggest problem I found with the PC was the difficultly of transitioning between the keyboard and the tablet setup.   

Simpson's Testimonial:
The HP Tablet was a good computer to use, overall. Its screen that allows handwriting of notes was very useful in class and presentation. It makes it easy to emphasize certain points and to draw objects (e.g. graphs). Some ways to improve the tablet is making the stylus and interface more sensitive to inputs. For example, it often takes a few tries to erase something on the screen. Also, allowing the user to type on the keyboard and use the tablet screen at the same time would be helpful. Some functions are just easier to perform with the keyboard.
The computer's other functions were pretty standard for laptops and served my purposes just fine. Also, processing speed seemed adequate for the simple statistics modeling that I used the laptop for. The laptop was useful to me as a student and was much appreciated since I did not have to purchase my own laptop computer for this class.

This project supported by an HP Technology for Teaching grant.  Last updated May 31, 2008.