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Tablet PC as an innovative instructional technology in Electronic Engineering Technology (EET) course delivery (non-refereed)

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3 Author(s)
Chao Li ; Electron. Eng. Technol. (EET), Florida Agric. & Mech. Univ., FL, USA ; Bellarmine, G.T. ; Prosper, L.

The effectiveness of instruction in engineering technology courses remains a big challenge for educators at all institutions. Through the support of HP Higher Education Teaching Initiative grant, the authors in Electronic Engineering Technology (EET) program at Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University had the change to implement a teaching methodology using innovative instructional technology. The main objective of this project is to integrate the use of wireless/mobile technology in classroom instruction to improve teaching and learning. A wireless LAN composed of 20 Tablet PCs donated by HP was setup. Ubiquitous Presenter software was installed in each of these computers as a platform to deliver some of the EET courses. Ubiquitous Presenter offers the structure and detail of pre-prepared slides along with the flexibility of on-the-fly inking, leaving instructors free to pursue tangents, correct mistakes, and provide step- by-step in-class examples. Slide minimization and whiteboard features provide instructors with any extra space needed. Students can synchronize with presentation via a web browser and watch it real-time, or remain unsynchronized and move between the slides at their leisure. All of the progressive inking is saved on the web, so students can return later and step through the lecture for review. Combined with the Pen Functionality provided by the Tablet PC, formed a vital and powerful platform for course delivery purpose. The project addresses the following fundamental learning and teaching issues: Firstly, the wireless capabilities of the requested equipment facilitate the interaction between the instructor and students in the classroom. The instructor can give an on-line quiz to the students. The students are able to submit the answers anonymously to the instructor. Then the instructor can use the answers from the students to initiate a targeted discussion. The instructor can also use the poll function to obtain an overview of how students un- derstand certain point. Secondly, in certain courses, i.e., microprocessor fundamentals and c programming, the lecture is closely related with programming. Usually, in lecture, the instructor explains the syntax of computer language; in the lab, the students will try to write some program and test it. Using Tablet PC technology, these two practices can be combined in the classroom. During lecture, the instructor can easily show the students some section of the code, and open the Integrated Development Environment and demonstrate to the students how the development process goes when necessary. This will deepen the students understanding and give them direct hands on experience right in the classroom. Thirdly, facilitate course delivery process for instructors and reduce the burden of notes-taking for students. Using tablet PC, the instructor can make easy annotation with a 'pen' in the circuit diagram, block diagram, flow chart, etc. The PowerPoint Presentation can be saved and distributed to the students through Blackboard. The instructor can also use white board to write key points, derive equation, make calculations, etc. All of these can be saved and distributed to the student. The change will let students focus their attention on learning and help them understand the material better. Finally it is hoped that this initiative will help to ignite an interest in technology for under-represented group, which is the main focus of our program, and that the students will become more dedicated to their study. Current Results overwhelmingly show the positive changes in these classes. Students' learning was noticeably improved by virtue of improved test scores and better homework performance. The students' behavior also improved drastically. Attendance rates are higher than previous semester. Inside the classroom, students are more involved in the classroom participation. Evaluations from the students also verified that they are learning more on subject matter. Over 90

Published in:

Southeastcon, 2009. SOUTHEASTCON '09. IEEE

Date of Conference:

5-8 March 2009