Sunday, November 04, 2007

The TabletPC: Functionality as a primary content delivery tool

The initial objective in working with the tablet PC was to test its strengths as a tool to assist primary content delivery for text based subject matter. The initial approach was for the instructor to use a projected text identical to the text used by the student. This text could be marked, highlighted, annotated and manipulated in real time due to the TabletPC’s pen function. In a typical lesson during which we would be introducing a new section of text to study, the scanned text is projected on the wall after having been inserted into MS OneNote2007. As each word or phrase is read, commas can be inserted, text can be circled, translations can be penned in the margins or over the text itself. What I generally do is as I read the text the first time I insert commas and translate new words. After finishing a phrase or sentence, I color-code the text by highlighting questions in yellow, answers in blue, proofs in pink, and statements in green. The student can either follow along in their own text, making the same insertions, or follow along with the projected image.

As mentioned in previous posts, one advantage of using the TabletPC is the fact that the student’s view of the screen never has to be blocked or obstructed (unlike most Smartboard setups) since the user never has to be interposed between the screen and the projector. This does come at the price of student interactivity since tablet is neither as intuitive nor as user friendly as a Smartboard. i.e. whild the Smartboard lends itself to a student coming to the fore of the classroom to enter text, answer a problem etc., while the tablet does not yet seem to lend itself to that. Where the Tablet setup shines is in it’s versatility as a presentation tool.

The software platform I am using on the TabletPC is Microsoft OneNote 2007. One Note is touted as the TabletPC “killer app”. One note certainly lends itself to being used by students as a note-taking and research tool. OneNote has a very broad array of data manipulation, searching, and recording capabilities and I have been told that am I am only scratching the surface of potential in the classroom. One really neat element its sharing function which should allow my students to download the very same screens and notes that were developed and projected during class.

I have been experimenting with color coded flowchart overlays, (i.e. flowcharts that follow the logic and reasoning of the text in the same color-coding scheme as the text). But have found the flowchart tools native to OneNote2007 to be very inefficient and difficult to work with in real time. As an alternative I am currently playing with OpenOffice Draw. Open Office Draw (which is free open source software part of the MS Office compatible OpenOffice Suite ) which has a robust set of flowcharting tools (Similar to MS Visio although it does not seem to be as easy to use). I hope to be able to write a set of macros or templates that would allow for greater automation of flowchart creation (ideally) to the point where a flowchart could be created on screen as quickly as it could be created on a whiteboard. More on that later…..

1 comment:

Elky Langer said...

I've found OneNote to be a fabulous tool for saving web pages. I don't know if you'd find that useful in the classroom, but it easily saves pages from your browser with a single right-click and you can either keep the formatting or change it anyway you want.

You can also print things to OneNote, just like creating a PDF, but it's since it's in OneNote you can then manipulate it with the drawing tools as you would any other OneNote document.