Tuesday, December 02, 2008

NERCOMP Pen-based Technologies SIG

Keri VanCamp and I gave a talk at the NERCOMP mini-conference as I discussed previously. There were four sets of speakers and all but we discussed pen-enabled technologies within a classroom setting. Our presentation, of course, focused on our use of tablet PC in 'outdoor' classrooms. Though this is a talk that I have given and modified from the first time I gave it (NERCOMP annual conference), each time something is added and I hope each time it improves.

I thought that this was one of the better NERCOMP SIGs that I've been too. The first speakers from WPI brought in a lot of pen technology tools and discussed where their focus is at this point. They plan to deploy Sympodiums by Smart to their technology-rich classrooms. I think that sounds like an ideal solution between a Smartboard and a tablet PC. Another interesting and notable point made is that we are seeing pen-technologies sold in places like Target and Circuit City...Wacom tablets and LiveScribe, to name but two. I believe we are starting to see the mainstreaming of pen technologies. Frankly, the more varied technologies we have to choose from not just as educators but as consumers the better for those of us with different learning styles and preferences.

Another issue that came up was the use of wireless with a tablet PC, especially in a classroom with many tablets. It can give troubles if your wireless is encrypted, but I'm not that versed on it. This is troublesome since we are investigating a wireless/projection tablet implementation.

Lastly, a point that came up is that there was a sense that tablet PCs have been slow to take off in higher education because of the heavy Macintosh use on our campuses. This is likely true. One attendee said his experience with the Axiotron was less than satisfactory. We don't have pen-enabled Macs now, it's been but a rumor for years, it probably will not happen that Macs will make the tablet PC of the higher educator's dreams.

By the way, no one gave a talk on Smartboard use. Not surprising but notable.

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