Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pen Technologies and the Educause Learning Initiative Annual Conference

This post is a little on the late side and I am trying to play catch-up. I attended the Educause Learning Initiative annual meeting last week in Orlando, Florida, which coincided with the first week of classes at Vassar. I'm just a bit behind. The ELI conference, for those who do not know about it, is a showcase for teaching and learning innovations in higher education. Instructional Technologists, such as myself, flock to this meeting.

I wanted to mention a couple of topics of interest that relate to the usual topics found in this blog. Tablet PCs. Mobility. SmartBoards. And Promethean Pen-enabled White boards. There were loads of talks and presentations on the use of pen-enabled technologies in teaching. On a related topic, there was a lot of discussion on mobile technologies, as well. We use our tablets for their mobility and processing power, but the mobile devices discussed at ELI were more on the line of hand-held PDAs devices and clickers.

The photo above, shows me co-presenting with the Skyping-in Lucy Johnson, Anthropology professor. As I said, classes just started and Prof. Johnson needed to be in Poughkeepsie to teach, but she was a sport and video-conferenced in for our paper on "Technology in the Field: Tablet PCs in Higher Education." Thank you Jim Vanides of HP for the invitation to present our work and to ISTE for funding my travel. Below you can see me, my colleague Cristian Opazo in Orlando, and Prof. Johnson and my colleague Ginny Jones in Poughkeepsie. Great fun.

Another pen-based presentation was called "Active Learning in Field-Based Classes Using Tablet PCs for Collaborative Data Collection and Mapping" given by me, Lucy Johnson and Bob Fritz, from the Biology department. Many people were surprised, I think, at the ease with which one can get up and running with tablets PCs in field-based classes. The software is what one uses on a desktop computer. The major expense are the tablets themselves, of course, but the prices keep coming down.

Here is a PDF version of our poster and below is a primitive view of the poster as it looked in the hall.

Not like some of these conferences you go to and there is a whole section dedicated to vendors, ELI is much more low-key. There were very few vendors and those that were at ELI, were either presenting as a poster or sponsoring and providing the technology needed for the presentations. I met a vendor selling an alternative to SmartBoards. Promethean ActivePanels and Promethean Interactive WhiteBoards sold by Logical Choice looks very promising.

Other talks/presentations of note: "Innovation in Instruction Using Tablet PCs: A Hands-On Session Integrating Tablet PCs in Education" by Dave Berque from DePauw University.

"Using Tablet PCs as Interactive Web-Based Instruction Tools to Enhance Understanding in Freshman Calculus" presented by Marilyn Reba and Barbara Weaver, from Clemson University.

"Mobile Computing and Learning" by Geri Gay from Cornell University.

Finally, the Faculty Innovation Showcase stations (shown in the first picture above) were sponsored by HP, Smart Technologies, Tidebreak, with all the furniture and technology design provided by Herman Miller. All the laptops that I saw where Windows, provided by HP, and were running Windows XP.

1 comment:

JKL said...

Add Herman Miller to the list of showcase sponsors also providing the furniture for the showcase "interaction zones" in photos above. Kudos to you, Meg, and Lucy for using the power of technology to support a terrific team presentation.