Using Tablet PCs in the Classroom: An Investigation of Students' Expectations and Reactions

Article excerpt

The purposes of the current experiments were to investigate: (a) students' expectations with regard to the use of Tablet PCs within the classroom, (b) students' attitudes toward the implementation of Tablet PCs within the classroom, and (c) the resulting classroom environment from the use of various technologies. Results indicated that although students were unsure about whether or not instructors would utilize Tablet PCs in the classroom, students reported very positive attitudes toward this implementation. In addition, students overwhelmingly reported that the classroom was interactive and engaging, the use of technology enhanced the classroom, and that they benefited from its use. Future research should not only investigate the attitudes towards the use of Tablet PCs in the classroom but also the impact that Tablet PCs have on student learning.

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The purposes of the current experiments were to investigate: (a) students' expectations with regard to the use of Tablet PCs within the classroom, (b) students' attitudes toward the implementation of Tablet PCs within the classroom, and (c) the resulting classroom environment from the use of various technologies. To begin investigating this topic, relevant literature is reviewed with regard to technology in the classroom and Tablet PCs.

The use of many technologies within the classroom has exploded in recent years, aided with an increased availability of course management software to provide these functions (Heffner & Cohen, 2005; Young, 2002; Olsen, 2001). Students' attitudes toward the use of course management systems are generally positive, despite course content in psychology (Warren & Holloman, 2005; Goolkasian, Wallendael, & Gaultney, 2003), across other disciplines (Henley, 2003; MacFadden, Maiter, & Dumbrill, 2002; Cao & Bengu, 2000), for many functions or tools available on the systems (Heffner & Cohen, 2005; Bee & Usip, 1998), and in cases where students had no prior exposure to the systems (Bonds-Raacke, 2006). However, students' expectation for the use of technology can sometimes stand in stark contrast to what many college instructors themselves experienced as students and in many cases the way instructors currently engage students (e.g., Ouzts & Palombo, 2004; Jones & Moreland, 2003).

Although research has extensively examined students' reactions to course management systems and their many tools, little empirical research to date has examined students' reactions to the Tablet PC. A Tablet PC is a laptop notebook that allows the user to rotate and fold the screen onto the keyboard face-up, allowing the user to write on the laptop screen with a digital pen. Tablet PCs account for only about 1% of the market for notebook computers and although they are very popular in industries such as health care, it has been predicted that its most promising area could be in the classroom (Fitzgerald, 2004). Many elementary schools (e.g., Godsail, Crescimano, & Blair, 2005) and institutions of higher education are implementing Tablet PCs in the classroom including Virginia Tech, where an alliance between Fujitsu Computer Systems Corporation, Microsoft, and Virginia Tech provided Tablet PCs for engineering students and faculty members beginning in the summer 2006 (Nystrom, 2006). Those instructors who have implemented Tablet PCs in the classroom report advantages such as integration between the prepared and ad hoc notes, permanence of ad hoc notes, and interactivity between the presentation and students' comments (Colwell, 2004). However, drawbacks have been identified including price and quality of the screen (Godsall et al., 2005). Therefore, the purpose of Experiment 1 was to investigate students' expectations with regard to the use of the Tablet PC and the purpose of Experiment 2 was conducted to investigate students' attitudes toward the implementation of Tablet PCs within the classroom and the resulting classroom environment. …