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

Tablet PCs Make Science Real at Bluegrass Community & Technical College

Are your students tired of cookbook labs that bear little resemblance to real science? Brent Eldridge at Bluegrass Community & Technical College (Lexington, Kentucky) and his colleagues are using tablet pcs to revamp the lab experience to be field-based, dynamic, and highly collaborative...

Eldridge's project, funded by an HP Technology for Teaching grant, was just featured in an article appearing in EdTech, entitled "Real Science -Tablet PCs bring lab research to life for professors and students." (by Vanessa Jo Roberts)

..."I wanted to take that experience outside - where chemistry happens," Eldridge says.

So what leads to making lab use of tablets a success? A few simple steps, say Eldridge and others who've begun similar programs: Create a detailed plan in advance, make necessary infrastructure changes, overhaul your curriculum, prepare your students and be ready to deliver support services.

I particularly enjoyed the quotes from student Alan Webb:

The dynamic nature of the lab at Bluegrass appealed to Alan Webb, who was among the initial group of students to use the tablet PCs and is now in the pharmacy program at the University of Kentucky. "Most lab assignments are: Go in, do it, get it done, forget about it. But I didn't forget about this one," Webb says.

Plus, in what Eldridge considers the chief achievement, students work much more collaboratively, which will serve those who pursue science and research careers, he says, noting that few discoveries result from someone toiling away alone with no input from other scientists.

Webb agrees, noting that he is still in touch with a student from that fall 2005 course, who still corresponds regularly with her lab partner, too.

The labs have become much more interactive - they create bonds among the students that simply did not occur previously, Eldridge notes.

But perhaps the most telling statement comes from Webb: "It's an absolutely true statement that it will draw people into the sciences because it makes it applicable to the real world."

For more information about the project at Bluegrass Community & Technical College, visit their project webpage, http://www.bluegrass.kctcs.edu/natural_sciences/hpgrant/

Nice job, Bluegrass!

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

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



Enhancing "Live" Distance Learning with Classroom Presenter

Jim Vanides

Live classroom interaction is an instructional model that is often missing in synchronous online presentations. Richard Anderson, University of Washington, shows us how he brings graphical interaction into an online course that is broadcast synchronously to three sites - one of which is a world away...

If you don't already know, Richard Anderson is a past HP grant recipient and the creator of Classroom Presenter, which he describes as:

"...a Tablet PC-based interaction system that supports the sharing of digital ink on slides between instructors and students. When used as a presentation tool, Classroom Presenter allows the integration of digital ink and electronical slides, making it possible to combine the advantages of whiteboard style and slide based presentation. The ability to link the instructor and student devices, and to send information back and forth provides a mechanism for introducing active learning into the classroom and creates additional feedback channels."

Classroom Presenter screenshot


Classroom Presenter is effective, easy, free (for non-commercial use) and is now being used by faculty around the world. Richard and his UW team have just released a video that shows how they are using CP in an online course that is simultaneously delivered to three locations: A classroom at the University of Washington, at Microsoft (about 30 minutes from UW, near Seattle), and to a classroom in Pakistan. Once again, the power of graphical response makes the learning experience truly interactive - a characteristic that is often missing from synchronous webinars.

(click here or on the image below to download the video)


Nice job, UW - thanks for sharing!


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

For information about the HP Global Social Investments, visit



Mobile Mapping Software – Vassar College Shares Their Approach to GPS & GIS

If you’re looking for software that supports student mapping and data collection, take a look at the blog from Professor Meg Stewart at Vassar College...

Meg is the PI for a 2004 HP Technology for Teaching grant received by Vassar. The project, Mobile Mapping Using Tablet PCs and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in Field-based College Courses, is a great example of field data collection using GPS, GIS, and Tablet PCs. You can read more about their project(s) at http://www.cfkeep.org/html/snapshot.php?id=71791110627159.

Her blog posting about the software they’ve been using is located at http://gisatvassar.blogspot.com/2008/02/software-for-mobile-mapping-lab-tablets.html .

If you happen to be attending the Northeast Regional Computing Program Annual Conference next week, feel free to drop by her presentation: https://www.educause.edu/NC08/Program/13921?PRODUCT_CODE=NC08/SESS10

Thanks for sending me the weblinks, Meg!

Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Program Manager - Worldwide Higher Education Philanthropy

For information about the HP Technology for Teaching philanthropy initiative in higher education, visit

Community Mapping in Nova Scotia – HP Technology for Teaching & Geomatics

I know many of you are involved/interested in using Tablet PCs and GPS sensors for mapping. If so, you might be interested in hearing about the project that is being launched at the Nova Scotia Community College…

The Applied Geomatics Research Group at Nova Scotia Community College in Canada is one of 81 new 2007 HP Technology for Teaching projects being launched around the world. Dr. Robert Maher, Senior Research Scientist in the Geomatics Research Group, along with Roger Mosher, Software Engineer, are launching a new Mobile Geomatics Lab that will allow the campus (faculty and students), communities, and school groups to use HP tablets, GIS mapping software, and GPS units to do data acquisition, validation, analysis and visualization of geographic data from their community.

Their project description explains that, “This initiative is complementary to an ongoing Rural Secretariat, rural knowledge cluster project where we are developing a wider awareness of the application of Geomatics for community mapping. Community mapping is the empowering of local groups to capture the geographic features in their landscape e.g. historic sites, scenic viewpoints, walking trails, invasive plant locations. Community groups will include 4H, First Nations and Black Nova Scotians; all minorities within the rural setting. The availability of a mobile lab, in association with existing GPS units and GIS software gives us the capacity for educational outreach into the community. On campus, it will result in program redesign for Geomatics Programming and also courses within the GIS, Remote Sensing and GIS for Business programs…”

For more information, or to follow the progress of this project, feel free to visit their new blog at http://community.livejournal.com/geomatics_lab/.

If you are involved in GIS/GPS related work, please post a comment and describe your work so we can all meet each other!

Jim Vanides, B.S.M.E, M.Ed.
Program Manager - Worldwide Higher Education Philanthropy

For information about the HP Technology for Teaching philanthropy initiative in higher education, visit

More Mobile Mapping – Vassar Paper in Journal of Geoscience Education

For those of you who enjoyed hearing how Mark Manone at Northern Arizona University is using Tablet PCs with mapping applications in the field, I think you’ll find what Meg Stewart and Kirsten Menking at Vassar are doing to be of interest.

Meg Stewart just sent me a link to a paper that she and Kirsten Menking have published in the Journal of Geoscience Education. The paper is entitled, “Using Mobile Mapping to Determine Rates of Meander Migration in an Undergraduate Geomorphology Course” (https://vspace.vassar.edu/mestewart/Menking_Stewart_March2007.pdf). Even if it’s been a while since you’ve meandered in a geomorphological kind of way, if you’re interested in using Tablets in the field I think you’ll find their experience to be valuable.

FYI, the Vassar team were 2004 HP Technology for Teaching grant recipients. Feel free to visit their project webpage for more information.

If you’ve had your own experience using Tablets in the field, or if you have any questions, feel free to post a comment!

Jim Vanides, BSME, M.Ed.
Program Manager - Worldwide Higher Education Philanthropy

For information about the HP Technology for Teaching philanthropy initiative in higher education, visit www.hp.com/go/hpteach-hied

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About the Author(s)
  • A former K-12 district administrator and adjunct professor of communication, Elliott has won over 60 state and national awards in school public relations, is a past columnist for Electronic School, School Administrator and American School Boards Journal, and has been interviewed for many leading educational publications. Recently, Elliott helped developed models for personal learning, which in testing increased successful completion of algebra from 33% to 71% versus traditional classroom instruction. His work is featured by HP at www.hp.com/makeitmatter
  • I am part of the HP Calculator team, working on the HP Prime graphing calculator. I taught mathematics for 20 years and have extensive experience in the professional development of teachers of mathematics. My area of interest is mathematics education; specifically, how technology affects the teaching and learning of mathematics.
  • 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.
  • Mike is a passionate education advocate dedicated to helping schools design, build and deliver solutions that solve the complex instructional challenges that face K12 leaders every day. Mike is interested in working with individuals and organizations that share the same level of commitment to improving Instructional outcomes with and through the use of technology
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