Recent advancements and innovation in Tablet computers

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Enduring advancements in computers and technological change, creativity and innovation for tablet computers (TBC) brought enormous changes in the lifestyle of teachers and students over the years.

The field of information and communication technology is causing a transformation in education and training. New computers like laptops, tablet computers, PDAs and other mobile devices are making education system, training and distance learning courses more effective and realistic for everyone and have the prospective to increase the quality of classes.

In this Essay we will look at

the innovation and evolution of tablet pcs

The possible use of Tablet-PCs in classroom and education system

Changes in students lifestyle with the benefits of using tablet pcs

Conducting survey among Brunel university students to get to a result how their life had been moved by the usage of TBCs.

to discuss the results of two detailed case studies conducted among graduate students, focusing on the usage of new tablet pcs in their everyday lifestyle vs laptops or previously used tbcs than the new ones came out in recent years

from all the studies and literature reviews will try to get to the point how advancement in tablet pc technology have made the lifestyle of the students and educators so much easier over the years.

the innovation and evolution of tablet pcs

In the late 1980s, early pen computer systems created a lot of enthusiasm and there was a time when it was thought they might eventually substitute conventional computers with keyboards. However, everyone knows how to use a pen and pens are undoubtedly less intimidating than keyboards.

Pen computers, as foreseen in the 1980s, were built in the order of handwriting recognition. Handwriting recognition was seen as an important future technology in the early 1980s . Nobel prize winner Dr. Charles Elbaum started Nestor and developed the NestorWriter handwriting recognizer. Communication Intelligence Corporation created the Handwriter recognition system, and there were many others.

As the '80s wore on, more and more tech companies began dipping their toes into the expanding tablet market. GRiD Systems became the first company to offer an actual portable tablet-based computer in 1989 when they introduced the GRiDPad. The GRiDPad managed to weigh in at just under 1.5 pounds despite offering a large, grayscale, backlit screen, internal floppy drive, fax/modem card, and a PCMCIA slot. Like the Penpad before it, the GRiDPad relied on MS-DOS as its operating system.

Operating system wars are nothing new to the computer industry, and the early '90s saw two companies battle it out for tablet OS supremacy. GO Corporation introduced an OS called PenPoint OS, which allowed for a greater range of gesture recognition. PenPoint OS debuted on tablet models in 1992. That same year, Microsoft countered with Windows for Pen Computing.

In 1991, the pen computing hype was at a peak. The pen was seen as a challenge to the mouse, and pen computers as a replacement for desktops. Microsoft, seeing slates as a potentially serious competition to Windows computers, announced Pen Extensions for Windows 3.1 and called them Windows for Pen Computing. Microsoft made some bold predictions about the advantages and success of pen systems that would take another ten years to even begin to materialize. In 1992, products arrived. GO Corporation released PenPoint. Lexicus released the Longhand handwriting recognition system. Microsoft released Windows for Pen Computing. Between 1992 and 1994, a number of companies introduced hardware to run Windows for Pen Computing or PenPoint. Among them were EO, NCR, Samsung, Dauphin, Fujitsu, TelePad, Compaq, Toshiba, and IBM. Few people remember that the original IBM ThinkPad was, as the name implies, slate computers.

Even Apple itself began developing its own entry into the tablet market. The Apple Newton began taking shape as early as 1989. While originally the Newton was intended to be a larger computer along the lines of the GRiDPad it was eventually shrunk down to a more pocket-friendly size. The Newton ultimately veered away from the tablet arena and became one of the first of a new type of computer called a Personal Digital Assistant or 'PDA'.

Other tablet models began appearing on the market in the early '90s. IBM first coined the popular ThinkPad moniker when it introduced the ThinkPad 700T model along with several others. While other early Thinkpad models featured full color screens and the Windows 3.1 OS, the 700T (also known as the IBM 2521) sported a 10.1" monochrome screen and ran on GO Corporation's PenPoint OS.

Another popular PenPoint OS-based tablet during this time was AT&T's EO Communicator. Though fairly bulky in design, the EO Communicator was most notable for offering wireless connectivity via AT&T's cellular service. The EO also feature numerous ports connections - serial, modem, parallel, and VGA out among them. Predating even the EO in terms of wireless connectivity was the Fujitsu Poquet PC, which relied on a wireless LAN connection rather than cellular.

Though tablet PCs had been envisioned and developed since the late '60s, 2001 was the year the format came into its own. At that year's Comdex trade show, Bill Gates took the stage and announced Windows XP Tablet Edition. This was a major change for the tablet PC. In the past, tablets had relied on proprietary operating systems like PenPoint OS and Palm OS. These systems were generally simpler and less graphics intensive than those found on standard computers. This new version of Windows XP promised all the looks and functionality of Windows in a format better suited to a touchscreen interface.

New tablet PCs from a variety of manufacturers began hitting the market in the years following. These new models generally fell into one of two categories. The first category was slate tablets. Like older tablet models, slates included no built-in keyboard and relied fully on the touchscreen for their interface. While this proved cumbersome when users needed to type long documents, slates had the advantage of being more portable and more durable. Notable slate tablets include the Fujitsu Stylistic, the Quadpad Slate Style Tablet PC, and the Motion M1200

A few companies also introduced slate tablets specifically designed for users who craved durability above all else. Models like the AIS Rugged Tablet PC and G-NET Rugged Tablet PC were designed for scientists and engineers who worked in extreme and remote environments.

The second, more common type of Tablet PC to become prevalent during this time, was the convertible tablet. These models featured a rotating screen that allowed the computer to be oriented either as a standard laptop or a slate PC. This type of tablet had the advantage of including a full-size keyboard, disc drive, among other features that slate tablets lacked. Convertible tablets also featured larger screens, though in most cases these models topped out at 12 or 13-inches. Significant convertible tablets included Fujitsu Lifebook, the Dell Latitude XT, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X60.

Though the tablet PC market grew by leaps and bounds since Microsoft unveiled Windows XP Tablet Edition, it still represents a fairly small portion of the laptop and portable computer market. Recent years have seen companies attempt to diversify and explore new ways to bring the tablet concept to consumers

Perhaps the biggest barrier to market expansion is cost. Convertible tablets may resemble laptops in form and function, but they tend to cost much more. Manufacturers began experimenting with low-cost laptops, first as a means of providing computer access to poorer countries, but later to all consumers. ASUS's EEE PC kick-started the netbook market. Netbooks are smaller than traditional laptops, usually coming in at 9 or 10-inches, but with most models costing a mere $300-400 and providing users with full-featured versions of Windows or Linux. The EEE paved the way for competing models from Dell, Samsung, HP, and many other companies. Most current Netbooks rely on Intel's Atom processor, a chip designed specifically for low power consumption and high performance in portable devices.

While none of these low-cost netbooks offer touch-screen or tablet functionality, ASUS is attempting to bridge the gap between netbooks and tablets with the EEE PC T91. The T91 is also notable for offering a multi-touch screen. While rare at the moment, multi-touch functionality is becoming more common in tablets. HP unveiled the HP Slate at CES 2010 this January. The HP Slate features a multi-touch screen and runs on the Windows 7 OS.

While uncommon at the moment, multi-touch is a technology that has been in development for many years. A company called Fingerworks began developing a multi-touch technology in 2003 that was eventually adopted by Apple for the iPhone and iPod Touch. The iPhone has proven to be a very popular entrant in the increasingly crowded smartphone market. Since its debut in 2007, Apple fans have wondered whether Apple would expand on its iPhone technology and develop its own full-size tablet device.

For years Apple denied plans to release either a tablet computer or a netbook. Many theorized the company was afraid a low-cost computer might cannibalize the market for Apple's MacBook laptops and Mac computers.

Before 2010, the closest thing consumers could find to an Apple tablet was the Axiotron Modbook. The Modbook isn't an official Apple product, but rather an after-market modification that transforms a MacBook laptop into a slate tablet. Axiotron replaces the LCD screen and several internal components during the modification process. Consumers can either purchase pre-modified Macbooks direct from Axiotron or have their old models converted.

While this was a solution some Apple fans were happy to take advantage of, Apple finally announced their plans to tap into the tablet market in late January 2010. Known as the iPad, this model is Apple's attempt to bridge the gap between smartphones and laptop computers. The iPad is an upscaled iPod Touch in many ways, featuring the same OS and multi-touch controls but offering a much larger 9.7-inch screen. The iPad is set to launch on April 3rd in storage capacities ranging from 16 to 64 GB. This debut model will feature Wi-fi connectivity. Those who prefer wireless 3G access will be able to pick up a 3G model of the iPad a few weeks later.

The tablet computer has had an interesting and sometimes rocky history since the days of Star Trek and the Dynabook. Many are looking to the iPad to usher in a new age of digital media, combining the best aspects of the iPod, the Kindle, and a laptop all in one device. Others feel the iPad isn't quite the revolutionary jump forward Apple had promised. In either case, it's clear tablet PCs still have plenty of room for growth in the coming years. The battlefield will only heat up in 2010 as a new wave of tablets built on Google's Chrome OS arrive to directly combat the iPad. You can bet we'll continue to follow the evolution of the tablet over the next few years.

The possible use of tablet pcs in classroom and education system

The Tablet PC has established its way into the educational system as a tool of

handiness and collaboration. Both in and out of the classroom tablet PC has been documented very useful to the field of education. However different educational institutions might use the Tablet PC in diverse ways, but still some general usage areas available for implementation. Probable implementation experiences at Brunel University are introduced to expand on the topic of the Tablet PC in education. Used as an instructor tool outside of the classroom, the Tablet PC extensively assists in grading with the capability to mark documents. Documenting student performance, online assignments and feedback for review are the important features of accreditation at Brunel. Conventional techniques for meeting the accreditation criteria implicated a number of steps - whether the assignments were submitted on paper or electronically.(

Once assignments were printed and marked, they would require to be recorded for upcoming review. It could either be done by scanning all documents and electronically store them or to make photo copies. For a lecturer with a full course load, this could mean hundreds of assignments with huge number of pages per assignment. To meet this requirement, The time and resources (paper and copy toner) can be very expensive. In that situation an alternative could be to use the Tablet PC to mark and save student feedback. Despite of any subjects, Whether grading English papers or computer programs, the Tablet PC can be very useful for various purposes. Word documents can be inked and saved and files can be archived for university usages and electronically sent to the student. In many cases assignments and feedback are both made available to university websites under the certain faculty, the marked assignments are not usually available to be viewed by everyone. Any student with access to Microsoft Word and has a password to access course website can obtain their feedback.(

As an instructor tool inside the classroom, the Tablet PC can be projected on screen via wired or wireless transmission so that written or highlighted documents can be saved and provided to the students. With an available wireless connection, instructors can project their computer image on a screen via a projector and freely roam around the classroom. The instructor can mark documents based on classroom discussion, save the documents and make them available for student use. Without the wireless, the same end product can be created, however the professor's ability to physically move around the room is obviously hindered. Student typing on a traditional keyboard during lecture can be a distraction. As a student tool, the tablet pc can be a non-intrusive way for students to quietly take electronic notes. Additionally, documents provided by the instructor can also be inked allowing students to add their own thoughts to the material provided by the instructor. Finally, the Tablet PC can be used as a collaboration tool with the assistance of open source software. With the usage of Tablet-PCs classroom presentations can reach to a higher level with the addition of inking by both instructor and student, also the ability to save and disseminate marked documents, and the introduction of instant feedback for classroom surveys. Classroom Presenter features include the inking of the slide deck during presentations, the ability to transmit the slides to the student computer, a quick poll for student feedback, and the ability for students to submit their own markings for review or sharing with the class. (

Teaching with Tablet PCs: Views from Teachers

To have a better understanding of how the Tablet PC implementation affected teachers, I interviewed three lecturers from Brunel University. Lecturers had been chosen randomly at their convenient time by appointments, and interviews

were conducted in May 2005. The interviews lasted from 40 to 60 minutes, and.

The interview questions are presented in Appendix A in Volume 2.

In my interviews, we talked regarding challenges and affordances of the Tablet PC in education and learning. In this segment we also take account of selected information from the teachers responses to a number of open-ended questions on the survey. These survey questions are given bellow:

1. Please express how the use of Tablet PC changed the curriculum?

2. Briefly describe the ways in which you might use the Tablet PC in your teaching.

3. Please tell us about things that you like about using the Tablet PC.

4. Please describe things that you find objectionable about using the Tablet PC.

Tablet PC Teaching:

Writing, Drawing, and Envisioning

Examples from Teachers answer of how they might use the Tablet PCs in teaching include teaching descriptive writing in various languages by using pictures, different characters, numbers and linking them all together for better understanding of different materials.

Teachers can also type up notes for students to download via Virtual Classroom, manipulating digital text such as leaving blank sections in a digital text for fill-in-the-blank , put tick marks on correct answers or leaving blank space to answer the questions during online quiz's.

In Math or Science classes the pen technology facilitates students and teachers to write math and science nomenclature without the usual keyboard limitations.

The major use of the Tablet PC is to replace the blackboard with the tablet.

Teachers can effortlessly re-display formerly covered material that would

normally have been erased on a blackboard. The access to multiple pens in different colors, widths, and styles become very convenient .Easy to switch to other applications while working on one.

Easy Sharing of Information among Groups and Presenting Work with


Group works had been seen easier with the usage of Tablet PCs because students can do their own work of collecting information from the Internet and then distribute it among themselves by using a flash memory drive or infrared beaming of files.

The Tablet PC can be used instead of a whiteboard, or chalkboard when combined with a digital projector, and is, in many ways, advanced to the previously used methods. For beginners, it is usually easier to write on a tablet PC compared to a Smart board, whiteboard, or chalkboard. With the accurate software, one can pick up a wider range of communication tools, ranging from pen types, sizes, and colors to geometric objects, tables and pictures.

Problem Solving

Often time's teachers find it useful to solve the problems in a step-by-step fashion.. Using a Tablet PC mixed with PDF software such as Bluebeam PDF Revu, they scan the homework or assessment sheet into a PDF file, project it, and mark it up in real time as the problems are solve together.

Teachers also mentioned it is quite easy to set up problems in advance, copy and paste a picture or two from the web to zest up the problem, and have students work in groups to resolve the problem. 

Managing Distractions

At the outset, some teachers felt apprehension about adoption how can teachers manage students and their learning when they how can teachers manage students and their learning when they are faced with screens instead of

faces? are faced with screens instead of faces? Teachers developed classroom management strategies such as walking around more to check that students are focusing on the given tasks, standing in the back of the classroom more often than they had done before, and having students put their Tablet PC in tablet mode when using it in class. Teachers also discourage students from

working on several tasks at once so they do not get distracted. Control is valued, and with large class sizes (i.e., 40 students) and secondary students (i.e., ages 12-16) teachers are less inclined to conduct lessons that are more open to student control. This cautious approach is to be expected with teachers early in the implementation phase of a new technology in the


Teachers Enjoy Instant Access, Organization, and Convenience

With the help of wireless access, information is made easily available at once, and teachers can effortlessly read newspapers and Web sites to stay connected. On the survey, teachers predominantly preferred easy contact to information as a

Positive feature.

They also liked the multimedia features such as photos, animations, and movies in a great manner. Teachers see an advantage of the Tablet PC over desktop computers in the complete access to information. Moreover, the teachers enjoy the convenience of accessing the Internet from their classroom versus going to a computer lab. They prefer to use the Tablet PC to arrange class and student information, check homework, write with the stylus , pen or just the touch screen, and interpret items like poems with ink.

Teachers wanted to be informed when a student submitted work to the school portal .They also check online if the homework's were done. being .

Two teachers mentioned about the convenience of going paperless, and convenience was also brought up by several on the survey, to be more clear, they liked the convenience of the digital textbooks more than others .Digital textbook help a student can see more real-life phenomena via media for example , sound ,animation, and 3D views.



Research, Internet research, Analyze Data

Teachers pointed that researching and analyzing data have become so much easier with the aid of tablet pcs. Using a tablet pc they can read news paper, books or can even watch videos from any where. Life has become so mobile and Internet research has become very handy .Analyzing any amount of data has become so convenient.

Teachers Find Strategies for Controlling Classroom Behavior

Most of the teachers said that the classroom feels different with using Tablet PCs. several teachers believe that engagement in education makes the student management easier. For instance, if a new subject is introduced using a special Web Quest, the students behave very focused, It's easier to administer. Now students are more provoked and thrilled by the Tablet PC applications and this keeps them from being distracted instead of being bored in a classroom where a usually teacher just simply lectures them. This thought regarding easier supervision is not echoed across the board by teachers, also in the survey, several teachers reported complexity in keeping students from disruption. This could be more regarding instruction skill than it is about equipment.

Learning with Tablet PCs: Views from Students

Student Focus Groups

To obtain a better understanding of how students feel about using the Tablet PCs, 10 random students were picked as a focus group. The students were selected randomly from different backgrounds. They had been randomly asked how they might want to use their tablet pcs?

What do they think are the benefits of using tablet pc and about the probable changes it brings to the lifestyle.

Students Make the most out of Their Tablet PCs

For both school and personal use students like to surf the internet. They like to communicate through e-mail, instant messaging (IM), and blogging. E-mail and IM are used mostly for talking about homework between classmates, as well as for social purposes.

Students Access the Internet from Anywhere

Students reported that use of the Internet during class time depends on the classroom activities. They agreed that the information they find is variable in its nature, some Web sites are easy to understand and some are difficult. For the internet access, students wish not to use tablet mode for the quick access to the keyboard. They think is important for typing search items. Each campus has absolute wireless internet coverage, so that the Internet is accessible from anywhere. Students reported they work between classes and after school at different locations on the campus PC than as a school-related activity.

Some students mentioned about using internet for researching. With the help of wireless internet and their Tablet Pcs, they mentioned life has become very convenient. Anywhere anything you need to know about, you just get connected to internet and the world full of information is yours.

Students Easily Create Presentations and Artwork

Most of the students mentioned, Using Tablet PCs, they can use the stylus to write, sketch, circle, or add notes during the presentation to highlight important points the class. They can select pointer options such as; arrow, ballpoint pen, felt tip pen, and highlighter during presentation.

Students use ink to keep the audience focused while projecting the presentation on a large screen. By circling the important information, attention can be drawn very easily to the key points. Handwritten notes, questions and comments can be taken for everyone to see to make the presentation more interactive.

Some students talked about the convenience of art work by using Tablet Pcs.

They can quickly draw sketches or schematics to illustrate or share the idea.

Organizing Information Is No Longer a Chore

Students are very much fond of the note-taking features of the Tablet PC. Compared to paper, taking notes and connecting information together on a tablet is convenient because everything is in the same place and in a flexible form. Students mentioned that Tablet PC users never run out of paper.

Some of them enjoy the facility to attach a picture or video clip to notes.

Working in Groups Face-to-Face and Remotely

Students mentioned when they are working collectively in groups, they can easily send information to each other using Tablet PCS. They like projects done with the Tablet PCs. With the help of rich multimedia available to them, they mentioned that they can almost bring the subjects to life. With the help of media such as videos, sound and pictures projects look so alive than any materials that is normally found in textbooks.

With this enhanced information admittance, both reports and presentations are improved. They communicate their work to each other with lots of freedom to roam around anywhere to work on campus or home. Collective work can be done when needed, they are capable of going anywhere to meet up, abd if anybody misses the meeting, and they can in fact do the discussion online."

Challenges: Form Factors and Classroom Distractions

Battery life is a challenge to the students using Tablet PCs but they have instituted ways to extend battery life by reducing the display brightness.

They worry about teachers' receiving their submissions timely , Sometimes they also worry about getting their assignments lost.

Students are well aware that the teachers are always watch out for distractions.

you would have to bring around the iPad and an external keyboard with you. Typing isn't horrible with the virtual keyboard but there's no 'tab' key which I use a lot while taking notes in class. Also, sometimes apps crash, and I don't think there's an automatic save feature on Pages for iPad (like on Word) that periodically saves your work in case it suddenly crashes. I love my iPad, but another reason I would never use it to take notes in class is that I think I would look ridiculous. Right now, I think the iPad is just a laptop/computer supplement rather than a replacement so if you're between a Ma

5. Assessment THROUGH SURVEYS:

Assessment activities included written surveys and a focus groups.

The survey was conducted during the last few weeks of

class to 117 , among them 86 were males and 31 were femalesSurvey was conducted during the 2011 academic year. The classes surveyed comprised of an introductory level accounting class (Accounting 1), two 200-level accounting classes (accounting 2), one

300-level accounting course (accounting 3), and one 400-level

Course ( accounting 4)

The intention of the survey was to determine undergraduate students thoughts towards using the Tablet Pcs. In this survey the interviewers for the Accounting 1 course is relatively different as of the audience for the other

courses, the survey was particularly intended to examine diversities between various courses.However the survey provided

Information required to examine gender differences.

The complete set of questions with the mean responses calculated over

117 respondents, is provided in Table 1. The questions were answered

using a 5-point rating scale in which, 1=strongly disagree, 2=To some extent

disagree , 3=neutral, 4= agree to some extent, and 5=strongly agree. All

63 analyses described later in this section were conducted using a .05

significance level for determining differences among means and

linear relationships among variables.

Table 1

Findings : Mean survey responses among 117 students:

Items to survey

Mean results

Working with Tablet Pc is enjoyable.


Working with Tablet Pc is stressful


Using Tablet Pc makes my understanding of the course material better


By using Tablet Pc dents can make better set of notes


Tablet PC projection makes me more attentive towards the materials


I would be more likely to suggest this course to other students if Tablet Pcs were used.


I would be more likely to enroll in a class if Tablet pcs were used.


Correlations between the rating scales exposed that all these variables

have significant linear relationships. As a result, if students rated working with Tablet Pcs as enjoyable, they also believed that Using Tablet Pc made their understanding of the course material better, supplied them with a improved set of notes, made them put more attention during classes, made them more likely to suggeat the classes with Tablet pcs to others and to take another

class for themselves were Tablet pcs to be used. To conclude, same students also felt that using Tablet pcs were not stressful.

Study of variance comparing the mean scores for males and

females on the questions disclosed two significant arguments. primarily, all

students, despite of gender, rated the Tablet pcs usage in a great positive manner, the means were over 4 on the 5 point scale, apart from for the question regarding stress, which came out with a mean of 1.44.

Next, gender differences were mostly irrelevant in five of the

seven questions. Two of questions exposed the fact that females felt more strongly that Tablet pcs usage boosted their understanding of the course material . In that question females M= 4.65 against males

M=4.23 to another question and that Tablet Pcs provided a better set of notes, females M=4.87 against males M=4.52.


In order to understand students' perception of tablet pc usage in a better way, a focus group had been chosen randomly from various departments. In order to comprise students with a familiar experience, yet with the widest backgrounds

possible, I interviewed students from the Computer Science, stats, accounting, management courses. Five students participated from Computer science background,Five students from stats, five students from accounting and five from management background. and the group had 10 males, 10 females. We met up at university food court.

students had been assured that individual statements would not be disclosed to the course instructor. Even though the focus group was intended to be small in size, it was anticipated it would suggest some fascinating matters that could be examined more watchfully in subsequent semesters. For instance, at one point

during the focus group study, students had been asked to explain what they thought to be the best part of using Tablet pcs in class. This is a matter that was not directly addressed in the quantitative figures.

Each of the student's responds associated to 'increased interaction'.

Upon further exploration, however, it became clear that the group

was separated with respect to what they meant by 'interaction' in different ways.

Quite a few of the students appeared to be glad about the interaction they have

experienced with their instructors and their colleagues. They referred to the ability to team up with classmates and to see other students work alongside their own as being the best parts of their experience.

The rest of the group viewed interaction with the course material and the computers as the greatest thing about using the Tablet Pcs. Reliable with the rating scale data obtained in the earlier section, these students affirmed that they felt more positive because they knew they were leaving the classroom with an excellent set of notes that was consistent with the notes of their classmates.

Even though instructors may not like to hear this, the students also

much-admired the accessibility of class notes even if they were unable to

attend a class meeting. However, understanding the importance of classroom

participation and attendance, no one saw the notes as a substitution

for regular attendance. A lot of them felt more at ease, knowing that they had access to quality notes just in case they could not make it to the class.

These arguments suggests a new set of survey questions that we can test to large groups of students in an attempt to comprehend whether or not certain groups of students value the system for any other reasons.

Subsequently during the focus group study, the students were requested to spot the negative aspects of using Tablet Pcs. The most ordinary comeback was the

Concern about the distractions that the computer based classroom

affords. Students pointed out about emails, internet browsing, instant messaging and similar computer applications as common interferences in the classroom. In contrast, and in a somewhat conflicting manner, the students mentioned that the computer-based distractions did not obstruct with their learning any more than gazing out the window would hinder with learning in a traditional classroom environment.

The students recommended that the convenient and most effective

process for reduction classroom distractions despite of the presence of computers, depends on the instructor's teaching techniques. for instance, one student suggested thought that the more the teacher lectures without look for student involvement, the more challenging the distractions will be.

with a very few student comments made during the focus group its very difficult to believe it is possible to draw any conclusions from a focus group consisting of only twenty students But we can conclude that these comments and arguments suggest routes for future work.

At the end, the focus group was concluded by asking the students if they would

suggest the pen-based edition of the course to a friend over the

similar course educated in a traditional classroom. The answer was a

loud and undisputed yes!


As pen-based computers in general, and tablet PC's in particular,

gain in popularity, we believe it is important to carefully explore the

proper role of these devices in the Computer Science classroom. The

evaluations presented in this paper have focused primarily on

assessment of student attitudes toward the use of the system. In the

future we would also like to assess the impact of our approach on

student learning. While we are cautious about drawing conclusions

from a five person focus group, we believe the issue of minimizing

student distractions is also worthy of future investigation, perhaps

starting with a study to measure the frequency with which students

engage in distractive behaviors when working in standard and

electronic classrooms. In the meantime, the attitudinal data presented

in this paper suggest that pen-based computers are well-received in

the Computer Science classroom, and that these devices can be used

appropriately with a wide range of students.