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External Research: Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum 2004 Awards

Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum 2004 Awards

Microsoft Research announced the eleven recipients of the Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum awards, totaling $550,000 in funding. The objective of the Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum award is to create new and innovative course materials and educational pedagogy that take advantage of the Tablet PC. The courses and tools developed at the following universities will explore the potential of the Tablet PC to help make computing content and instruction more engaging and effective, resulting in higher success rates for students, the ability to attract more and better quality students to computing programs, and opening the world of computing to computing sciences majors and non-computer science majors.

Tablet PC and Computing Curriculum Award Recipients

A Tablet-PC Based Teaching Platform for Portable Mixed-Reality Concept
Daniel Aliaga, Dongyan Xu
Purdue University

Summary This project will create a new replicable undergraduate teaching platform for the emerging computing concept of portable mixed-reality.

Abstract We propose to create a new replicable undergraduate teaching platform for the emerging computing concept of portable mixed-reality (PMR). The platform deliverables include a PMR middleware toolkit, sample student projects, and multimedia tutorials. It will provide students of both computing and non-computing majors with hands-on experience of mobile mixed-reality application development using Tablet PCs. PMR is a fast-growing computing concept that combines traditional areas of computer graphics, visualization, multimedia computing, and mobile computing. As opposed to traditional computer graphics, which generates only synthetic environments, PMR captures real-world imagery and combines it with virtual imagery. The resultant mixed-reality imagery will then be able to augment a user�s real-world perception as well as the user�s interaction with other users or with the environment.

An Ink Enabled Curriculum for Data Structures
Richard Anderson
University of Washington

Summary This project will develop ink-enabled classroom materials for a data structures course, including lecture slides designed to be used with digital ink & electronically supported classroom activities.

Abstract This project will develop ink-enabled classroom materials for a data structures course. The materials will include lecture slides designed to be used with digital ink and electronically supported classroom activities. The classroom activities will target settings where students have networked Tablet PCs and will involve student submissions from Tablet PCs that are communicated to the instructor and possibly incorporated into the displayed material. Our goal is to develop a curriculum that supports a pedagogy based on students using mobile devices in the classroom to interact with instructional materials. Digital ink plays an important role in this because of the flexibility that writing provides to both students and instructors. Our hope is that the increased interaction in the classroom leads to measurable gains in learning outcomes. We plan to deploy the materials in courses at University of Washington in Summer and Fall 2005.

PACT: A Pattern-Annotated Course Tool
John Canny
University of California at Berkeley

Summary The goal of this project is to develop an authoring tool and a course repository to allow most instructors to develop courses that allow students to explore and discover, to discuss with other students, and to more carefully reflect on their own learning.

Abstract The Tablet PC is an exciting new platform for education. Tablet PCs support active learning in the classroom. Rather than following a text, Tablet PCs allow students to explore and discover, to discuss with other students, and to more carefully reflect on their own learning. These new methods have shown great improvements in learning, but the challenge is to develop curricula that realize the potential benefits. Most college instructors unfortunately have no preparation in active (that is, learner-centered) course design. The goal of this project is to develop an authoring tool and a course repository to allow instructors to develop these new kinds of courses. The tool is called PACT (Pattern-Annotated Course Tool). PACT addresses a significant challenge. Learner-centered course design requires familiarity with a rich set of learning objects (LOs) and with patterns of their use (Pedagogical Patterns, or PedPats). These concepts are completely foreign to most instructors who don�t have time to take in a course in new pedagogy. PACT is designed as a learning tool for instructors, to scaffold them in the design of leaner-centered courses. PACT is also an authoring tool that accelerates course development. It achieves both by exposing pattern annotations of courses, which show how particular course structures embody educational principles.

A Tiered Approach to Evaluating and Exploiting the Effects of Multi-modal Communication on Expression and Learning in the Classroom
Bill Griswold, Beth Simon
University of California at San Diego

Summary This project will evaluate and exploit the effects of oral communication, text- and typing-based communication, and ink-based communication as supported by the Tablet PC on expression and learning in the classroom.

Abstract We propose a three-tiered approach to evaluating and exploiting the effects of multi-modal communication (that is, oral communication, text/typing based communication, and ink-based communication as supported by the Tablet PC) on expression and learning in the classroom. The three tiers are developing active learning curricula to support dense computer science classes, such as Compilers and Computer Architecture; generalizing this experience to the development of teaching techniques incorporating multiple modes of communication; and developing an empirically supported theory of the effects of multi-modal communication on teaching and learning.

This work will take place in the context of the Ubiquitous Presenter system, an extension of the Classroom Presenter system developed at the University of Washington. We will produce a Web site of PowerPoint�based active learning activities with supporting materials and a lessons learned document. These materials will be specifically designed for use in Ubiquitous Presenter 1.0, due to be released in October 2005, but will also be usable in UW Classroom Presenter. Finally, an analysis of multi-modal student activities will explore the pedagogical implications of Tablet ink-based, text-based, and mouse-based learning exercises.

Toward the Dynamic Classroom: Utilizing the Tablet PC to Enhance Lectures and Team Work Projects at Pace University
Jonathan Hill, Christelle Scharff, Dennis Anderson
Pace University

Summary This project will utilize the flexibility and real-time instructional benefits of the Tablet PC during classroom lectures and presentations and test the benefits of conducting in-class team projects and provide real-time feedback.

Abstract This project, undertaken by the Pace University School of Computer Science and Information Systems with the support of Microsoft, addresses a research initiative based on the effective integration of the Tablet PC into CIS 101 (Introduction to Computing), a core course of the Pace University Curriculum taken by all Pace University undergraduate students (88 sections with approximately 2400 students in 2004�2005), and using Microsoft Office applications along with HTML and JavaScript in a technology product development exercise specifically designed for this project.

The project�s goals are to (1) enhance the learning experience of undergraduate students and provide them with a sound pedagogical environment to utilize the flexibility and �real-time� instructional benefits of the Tablet PC during classroom lectures and presentations, (2) use the Tablet PC to apply the key computing and technology concepts and techniques that students learn in CIS 101, and (3) test the benefits of conducting in-class team projects and providing real-time feedback with the Tablet PC.

The project will have an important immediate impact on the CIS 101 course, and, more broadly, on the Computer Science and Information Systems (CSIS) curriculum by involving three faculty representing the three departments of the School of CSIS. Other outcomes include taking the best practices and integrating them into the computing curriculum.

3D Journal for Computer-Aided Engineering Education
Hod Lipson
Cornell University

Summary This project will build a new Tablet PC�based sketching tool for designing and performing physical simulations on 3D objects.

Abstract Three-dimensional sketching is at the core of mechanical engineering design practice and pedagogy, yet sketches are currently not used as the interface to Computer-Aided Design (CAD) tools. We propose a new Tablet PC�based sketching tool for designing and performing physical simulations on 3D objects. The combination of sketching and physical simulation allows for a revolutionary progressive design process: users can sketch an object, gain immediate insight into its physical properties, and revise the sketch until the design concept matures. With no barriers between sketch and simulation, students can quickly explore and understand the physical properties, advantages, and weaknesses of their design. Instructors can quickly convey design concepts and physical properties during lectures, making the classroom experience more dynamic and facilitating learning. As enabled by the Tablet PC, this iterative, sketch-based design process promises to fundamentally change the way that engineers, designers, and architects work and teach. The 3D teaching tool and one or more physical simulators will be made available on the Web in binary form as source code under a public license. The code will allow others to plug in other types of physical simulation to expand the use of this platform for other engineering domains.

Development of a Targeted Tablet PC Software Development Course
Roy Pargas
Clemson University

Summary Students will develop tablet PC software that will assist the instructor to teach data structure concepts.

Abstract We will design and teach a new course entitled “CPSC 481/681: Tablet PC Software Development.” This course is designed for senior undergraduate/first-year graduate computer science students and offered by the Clemson University Computer Science Department. This course achieves two interrelated goals: (1) It teaches undergraduate and graduate students the skills necessary to develop exciting and useful Tablet PC software. (2) The software developed will provide new instructional material supporting existing laptop-enhanced courses currently being taught at Clemson University.

In a laptop-enhanced course, each student comes to class with a laptop equipped with wireless access to the Internet. Such courses are being taught by instructors (from many different disciplines) who are experimenting with novel pedagogical techniques in an attempt to use technology (for example, laptops) to deliver course content more effectively. The Tablet PC software produced by CPSC 481/681 students will supplement the material currently being used in these courses. For example, in Fall 2005, we will target CS4 (that is, CPSC 481/681) students will develop tablet PC software that will assist the CS4 instructor teach data structure concepts, such as stacks, queues, lists, trees, and graphs, as well as associated algorithms, such as arithmetic expression evaluation, tree traversal, shortest path algorithms, and minimum spanning tree construction.

Use of a Tablet PC for Peer-Review Activities in CS1 and CS2
Manuel Perez-Quinones, Stephen Edwards
Virginia Tech

Summary This project will introduce the use of the Tablet PC in CS1 and CS2 and will also evaluate how this tool impacts the learning objectives of these courses.

Abstract In this project we set out not only to explore the use of a Tablet PC in CS1 and CS2, but also to evaluate how this tool impacts the learning objectives of our CS1 and CS2 courses. We go beyond the now typical �take notes” scenarios to explore where the Tablet PC can assist our assessment efforts and where the Tablet PC can enhance our teaching by allowing us to explore new types of exercises that were not possible before. We focus on peer-review exercises for CS1 and CS2. We hope to produce a better understanding of the peer-review process, modules that can be used in classrooms and labs for CS1 and CS2, and software tools to support these activities.

Expanding the Computing Curriculum Beyond the Desktop Computer
Jeff Pierce
Georgia Tech

Summary The integration of the Tablet PCs into three human-computer interaction undergraduate classes: Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction, User Interface Software, and Adaptive Personalized Information Environments.

Abstract In order to train today�s students to create the applications of tomorrow, we must move beyond the computer science curriculum�s overwhelming focus on the desktop computer. We will incorporate tablet PCs into three existing undergraduate classes in the College of Computing at Georgia Tech. In the Introduction to Human-Computer Interaction course, we will modify the semester-long design and evaluation project so that students study existing note-taking practices and the novice tablet PC user experience, design prototypes that improve on the status quo, implement them, and evaluate them. In the User Interface Software course, students will implement an application incorporating the best ideas for their class project. Finally, students in the Adaptive Personalized Information Environments course will explore creating adaptive tablet PC user interfaces. Taken together, these courses will enrich the human-computer interaction undergraduate specialization at Georgia Tech and the educational experience of our students. We will make the prototypes and reports, the software applications, and the adaptive interfaces that students create available free over the Internet to other researchers and educators. We will also make available the course content we create, including lectures, software infrastructure, and descriptions of the projects and their milestones.

Tablet-Based Annotation for Grading and Peer Review in Computer Programming Classes
Jeff Popyack
Drexel University

Summary The purpose of this project is to improve instruction, course management, and student learning in large introductory computer programming courses, in a placement course for advanced students, and in an upper-level software design course.

Abstract The purpose of this project is to improve instruction, course management, and student learning in large introductory computer programming courses, in a placement course for advanced students, and in an upper-level software design course. We will do this by adapting more directly to the Tablet PC environment software tools (that is, Labrador, Gradesheet Generator) we have developed for this purpose and by instituting pedagogic change facilitated by integrating use of the Tablet PC�based software with a peer review/grading system. This development will be part of the ongoing Project DUPLEX (Drexel University Programming Learning Experience), which is developing and using technology to redesign large introductory computer programming courses.

We propose modifications to our Labrador software, which currently works with a course management system (WebCT) to facilitate grading through batch retrieval of assignments from the WebCT system and allows conversion of source code to PDF format for subsequent markup by graders. The modifications will permit conversion to OneNote format, which provides similar functionality with the added capabilities of interaction with the Ink data type and the Microsoft Office suite. This will provide a seamless environment for program grading and markup, with annotations visually enriched in meaning through their context/location on the paper.

A Comparison of Educational Outcomes when Teaching Electronic Commerce Using Traditional vs. Tablet PC-Enhanced Methods
Alfred Weaver
University of Virginia

Summary This project will examine what educational outcome differences, if any, result when teaching an electronic commerce course the traditional way versus the tablet-enhanced approach.

Abstract Tablet PCs running ConferenceXP 3.0 and OneNote have the potential to revolutionize higher education for technical topics, especially computer science. In one positive scenario, a tablet-enabled classroom may create a richer, more interactive, and ultimately more satisfying real-time educational experience, while simultaneously creating an archival multimedia record useful for future review. In an alternate scenario, the very existence of the archival record may alter educational outcomes by reducing classroom attendance and decreasing group interaction. We propose to determine what educational outcome differences, if any, result when teaching an electronic commerce course the traditional way versus the tablet-enhanced approach in the Fall 2005 offering of CS453, Electronic Commerce.

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