Teaching, Learning & Technology
Sharing best practices from faculty around the world who are using technology to transform teaching and learning.

Tablet PC Tips - Online and F2F @ Virginia Western Community College

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In their project, "Enhance Project-Based Team Learning in the
Mobile Computing Curriculum with Tablet PC's"
, the faculty at
Virginia Western Community College are using tablet pc's in their college level
programming courses taught ONLINE, and for face-to-face robot control projects
for local middle school students. Not surprisingly, the tablet pcs are making the
learning experiences more engaging AND more efficient for the instructors...

Dr. Diane Wolff and colleagues received an HP Technology for
Teaching grant in 2007. Not surprisingly, they are finding great benefits from
using the "digital ink" capability of their tablets to support their online
course discussions. Specifically, they are using:

  • Techsmith's Camtasia software to generate audio-annotated
    screen-capture movies

  • PowerPoint's built-in audio recording capability
    (Instead of running the "show" directly, launch it via "record narration"; as
    you talk and advance slides, your audio is linke to each slide for later reply)

  • OneNote for note-taking and feedback

  • Macromedia Breeze (now an Adobe webcast solution)
    for live online sessions with students

According to
Dr. Wolff, "The ability to draw out ideas
and brain storm in online meetings has been a real plus for numerous classes."

Their project also includes an outreach
component designed to raise the awareness and interest of Middle School
students in the field of computer programming. By programming Lego robots in
JAVA via the tablet pcs, the effort appears to be exciting the students.  "In the
short time that we have done this in pilot projects, I see the light go on for
many of the students, and the excitement is very rewarding",
says Dr.

The team at Virginia Western Community
College has gone one step further - they have created a fantastic set of guide "booklets"
(online pdf documents) that contain very helpful, illustrated tips for using
tablet pcs in various ways, which they offer for free: http://virginiawestern.edu/istgrants/tablettips.html. You can read more about their "mobile programming" grants and projects at http://virginiawestern.edu/istgrants/

Thanks for sharing, Dr. Wolff and team!


Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Worldwide Education Programs
HP Global Social Investment

Twitter @jgvanides

For information about the HP Global Social Investments, visit www.hp.com/hpinfo/grants



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About the Author(s)
  • Jim Vanides is responsible for the vision, strategy, design, and implementation of education technology innovation initiatives. His focus is the effective use of technology to create powerful learning experiences that help students around the world succeed. He has been instrumental in launching over 1200 primary, secondary, and higher education projects in 41 countries, including the HP Catalyst Initiative - a 15-country network of 60+ education organizations exploring innovations in STEM(+) learning and teaching. In addition to his work at HP, Jim teaches an online course for Montana State University on the Science of Sound, a masters-level, conceptual physics course for teachers in grades 5 through 8. Jim’s past work at HP has included engineering design, engineering management, and program management in R&D, Manufacturing, and Business Development. He holds a BS in Engineering and a MA in Education, both from Stanford University.
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