Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Tablet PCs in Field-Based Classes: A Video Documentary

We made a video that I'd like to share here. It has everything that this blog seems to be about, tablet PCs, mapping, instructional technology. I mentioned this video project in my last post, but I think this deserves its own post. In April we got funding from HP Philanthropy & Education to make a student-produced video documentary showing other students and professors using tablet PCs in classes. At Vassar, we teach with tablet PCs primarily in an outdoor, field-based setting. The following is the resulting video. It is 11 minutes long, so we made several shorter 'episodes' for each of the individual classes that we highlight. We hope you enjoy it.

This episode shows how Anthropology Professor Lucy Johnson uses tablet PCs in her Field Archaeology class. Professor Johnson is involved in an on-going excavation of a site at the Mohonk Preserve and her students are helping with that research. It is believed that the site was a shelter over 6,000 years ago. The students document the test pit excavations using a tablet PC and Word for drawing and writing up their observations.

In this episode, Keri VanCamp is showing how to document and map an invasive species at the Vassar Ecological Preserve. Biology Professor Robert Fritz teaches Ecology at the Preserve and his students are part of a longitudinal study of mapping the expansion of the invasive garlic mustard. The students use tablet PCs, a camera, a Word document with the various species they might encounter, and Photogrid (used for mapping ecological research sites).

And this episode shows Earth Science Professor Kirsten Menking with her Geomorphology students along Vassar's Casperkill creek, mapping the stream meanders. They are using a tablet PC, ArcGIS software and GPS receivers as well as older aerial photographs to measure the amount of stream migration over time.

And finally, this is a shorter version of the longer video. It is simply the beginning and the ending of the longer video, but we think it gives a succinct overview of how Vassar is using tablet PCs in some of our science classes.

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