Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Why the UA Faculty Should Get Tablet PCs

Warning -- long post, mostly of interest to the UAkron faculty and IT folks.
*** Version 1/31/07a S. Myers ***

The University of Akron has an opportunity to take a major evolutionary leap in instructional technology, leveraging its existing multimillion dollar investment in learning support services, by revamping the faculty laptop program with The University of Akron Faculty Tablet PC Initiative.

The faculty laptop program, begun in 2001, is about to be refreshed at UAkron. For the last year I have been asked to use, test and evaluate a Tablet PC in my work as an economics faculty member and I thank my on-campus sponsor for putting a Tablet PC in my hands. I have used a Gateway M280E exclusively for all tasks from the highly professional to the highly personal. As a result it is my belief that there should be a Tablet PC option and recommendation that only Tablet PCs should be in the offering in the laptop refresh of 2007 for UA.

In the last laptop refresh the faculty had two choices, a small and a large Dell Laptop and departments had to pay from their budgets the "delta" or extra cost of the larger laptop. This occurred primarily because of the budget pressures of buying a 1000 or so laptops at once and any small delta becomes a huge hit on budgets. If this model persists for the next refresh, there will be a base laptop and departments will have to pay the "delta" for the pen enabled screen of the Tablet PC. While I supported the two tiered budget system last time, this time such a premium would be a mistake because ...

The Tablet PC is an Evolutionary Leap In Instructional Technology

In our paper on Mobile Learning Technologies, Dan Talley and I used the word "evolutionary" seven times in 24 pages and on one of those citations we debated whether it should be revolutionary, so we settled on "(r)evolutionary." In our opinion, an evolutionary jump occurs when the Tablet PC is added to two other environments: system support software and the wired and wireless environments of the classroom and beyond. UA has made tremendous investments in the many-millions of dollars in these environments, has put laptops in the hands of faculty, and is uniquely positioned to move to the next level of prominence.

(1) System Support software

We have invested in system level software which includes a course management system (ours currently is WebCT added in 2000) and have enjoyed the synergies of this with our ZipLine that allows faculty to get into the Student Information System (in our case PeopleSoft installed in 2000) to check rosters, assign grades and do other course management functions and to find valuable information for Faculty. All of this can be accessed from the office desktop, but that decries its real value.

(2) Wireless Network and Technologically Enhanced Classrooms

We have been on the network so long now it is hard to imagine not having assess to the local network and the Internet. Still I remember well trudging through the snow uphill both ways to get to the computer center since only there could one access the mainframe. But now I write this in the comfort of my home connected to vastly greater university resources via wireless Internet signal from my laptop through my purchased ISP and by the magic of Virtual Private Networking (VPN). For all intent and purposes I am "on campus." At the same time I am connected by blue tooth listening to one of the podcasts at RadioEconomics.com.

At school I can connect wirelessly from my office, from Starbucks, from anywhere and most importantly from my classroom. The classrooms on campus began to transform starting in 1995 thanks to Del Williams, then Dean of the Libraries, and Tom Bennett, director of Audio Visual Service, because they decided to support the raving-cravings of an economics department faculty member for the ability to have access to a laptop and projection so as to bring presentations to the highly visual subject of economics. Suddenly, graphics and equations could be easily shown and commented on by the lecturer and we knew we had a winner in that dark dingy auditorium with that dim, but wonderful image on the screen. From there we planned and saw executed more and more of these rooms about campus. Now 86 Technology Enhanced Classrooms (TEC) are available in general purpose classrooms and many more "private" TECs exist such as the three in the Department of Economics. So today I can walk into the classroom and project my prepared lecture notes and activities for the students. Integrating with the systems software and the general Internet I can bring a huge amount of selected content into the classroom for engaging the students. One of the design principles of the TECs was there would be no computer in the classroom and faculty would bring in their content on their laptops. Hence we thought the third leg of this "stool" was the laptop. And indeed it was until the release in 2003 of the Tablet PC.

(3) The Tablet PC

In class: Carrying a laptop into a classroom was amazing. I could engage students not only by my words, but visually as well in a much more engaging way. I could use prepared slides and video, and when connected by wire to the Internet I felt nothing was in my way. But now I go into the classroom, connect wirelessly to the Internet and the system support software, and with my Tablet PC I can show prepared slides and I can write on them by writing on the screen of my Tablet PC. Using digital ink and a variety of applications, I can use my Tablet as a whiteboard and whatever I write shows up for students to view. If we have a wireless connection to the projector, then with a Tablet I can teach from anywhere in the room and not be tethered to one space. I can put the tablet in front of a student and have them complete a problem. Laptops were fine, but the enhanced flexibility of the Tablet PC causes it to be light years ahead of the poor laptop.

I had been interested in digital ink ever since my first view of a SMART board, and later the SMART Sympodium, both of which we have in the distance learning suites on campus. With the SMART board or Sympodium faculty have access to an electronic white board which replaces the need for the chalk board. Unlike the chalk board, the electronic whiteboard can allow import of any document and faculty can begin to annotate them. The Tablet PC is the ultimate white board.

When our new building opened a few years ago I was excited to see how the classrooms were designed and was disheartened to see that the screen was in front of the white board. Some faculty, might want both I thought, since I often did, but I realized that the Tablet PC was the overhead projector and the whiteboard...all I needed was in the Tablet PC with projection support.

Outside of class: The classroom does not have to end at the walls since with the powerful combination of system software, wireless networking and the Tablet PC we can continue our instruction anywhere. I regularly correspond with students, grade papers and connect by distance which I can do with a laptop, but the natural form factor of pen and virtual paper means that I am far more efficient and comfortable. In economics, like so many other disciplines, I am required to draw graphs and write equations. If a student walks into my office it isn't long before I am responding and drawing graphs and writing equations. Now, even at a distance in email or in other communication strategies I can respond with the pen. To be able to respond in this way is so much more efficient and I believe it truly aids student learning.

Evolutionary Jump: The Tablet PC completes a Mobile Learning Environment

So by way of summary, the Tablet PC intersects with the Wireless Networks, enhanced classrooms and the system support software to complete a Mobile Learning Environment. By adding general application software and specific disciplinary content to the faculty member's Tablet PC much of what once required many steps and resources now can all be in one device.

The value to faculty of the digital ink features and the evolutionary leap in potential for instruction when use in a mobile learning environment is worth the extra costs (about $100 per unit - Gartner). Even if you look at the possibility of buying 1000 laptops, the $100,000 or $33,333 per year is well worth the synergy when merging with the existing millions of dollars of investment in the finest facilities for teaching that we already have. To ignore Tablet PCs in this environment for everyone on the faculty is "penny wise and pound foolish."

Slate, Hybrid or Convertible?

The longer I use a Tablet PC the more I think I prefer a slate. Slates are essentially screen and pen only computers, there is no keyboard since all input is with the pen. Of course a USB keyboard and monitor and external optical drive can be added at the desktop to give a more typical setup. Slates are also the lightest.

If you need a keyboard then you are into a hybrid (the HP TC1100 might be the only one) which has a detachable keyboard, or a convertible like the Gateway M285. The convertibles are actually laptops complete with anything a typical laptop has including an optical (CD or DVD) drive. My Gateway is more powerful than the Dell it replaced from the last laptop refresh. The primary drawback is weight.

Windows or MAC OS

The Tablet PC is a windows based machine using XP Tablet PC edition or Vista operating system. There is one tablet out that runs Mac OS, but that computer is not made by apple and I do not know any more than the posting elsewhere in this blog.

Evaluation of the Gateway M280E:

My evaluation of the Gateway M280E comes down to tastes. I preferred the form factor of the M275, it is lighter and easier to hold. However, I do find the wide screen and 12 cell battery of the M280E, both necessary and the part I dislike the most. As I said before I am drawn towards smaller and lighter Tablet PCs. However, I am buying Gateways under a grant I have because I believe them to be the best all around value and lowest price per feature.

I have enjoyed having the Gateway M280E and can never go back to a non-Tablet PC. I do appreciate how this has become a total laptop replacement, and how everything I want to accomplish is possible, as possible as the laptop it replaces.

One thing I really like is the "Intel graphics media accelerator driver for mobile" program that sits in my task bar. From here, the control of the graphics output in connecting to external monitors and projectors in classrooms has never been the slightest problem. It is pretty bullet proof and in front of class that is essential.

I also like the fact that the M280E comes with a pen that has the weight, size and feel of a real pen and is not like so many of the competitors pens, a thin short plastic straw with a tip. Writing with the fine point pen is a breeze and feels very natural. The only downside is the pen contains a non-replaceable battery so the pen clearly can "run out of ink." I have replaced the pen (under warranty) twice in a year. Gateway says this is a known problem and hopefully the versions with later models are improved.

Do I need a Tablet and a laptop or a desktop? I wondered about this at first. I thought I would use the Tablet for somethings and depend on the laptop or desktop for the other. What I have done, however, is move in to the Tablet PC 100%. However, I do not always use it as a tablet, screen turned down writing with my pen. Much of the time I have the Tablet connected to the port replicator. From this position, I have an external mouse, keyboard, and monitor. I use the second monitor as an extended desktop. Most of the time I use the tablet keyboard, but on occasion I swivel the screen around and use it as a second input device. This way I can annotate in ink, while using the external keyboard for typing. In short you do not need a laptop or desktop for most applications. You certainly do not need a laptop since the convertible Gateway M280E is a laptop with the digital ink enabled screen.

As to power, I just ordered a tablet on grant that has these specifications, Intel Core 2 2.00 GHz, with 4MB (what? cache?), 2 MB memory, 80 MB 7200 RPM hard drive, DVD writer (8x, multiformat), ATI Radeon 64MB Graphics card, blue tooth enabled, a 12 cell extended battery, and port replicator. I will not tell it's price, but it is clearly competitive with laptops and from the specifications you can see that it will rival any other laptop. (For price see Computer Solutions on campus or consult your own retailer).

The handwriting recognition is fabulous. Sure it messes up once in a while, but the tools to easily fix the mess are fabulous.

The voice recognition built into word is not so fabulous -- very good, but you have to be very diligent to make sure what you said gets typed and not something else.

What Applications should be on the Tablets?

I would group these in to three categories. The first is all the software that is currently on a UA machine such as MS Office Professional 2003 and programs such as SAS that are currently available for departments to acquire. Possibly in this list should come Adobe Professional or some means of writing and annotating pdf files. This is a critical step in electronic distribution and markup. Faculty need to be able to create pdf files. I have professional and love it, but there may be lower cost solutions.

The second category includes software that come with the XP Tablet PC Edition or are free to download. I do know this will change with Vista, but here is my list of software that I use a lot.

  • Windows Journal - this is the best environment in which to write. Combine the fine markup tools with the print driver and you have an essential program. The print driver means anything you can print, you can "print" to Windows Journal and once there you can mark it up. Think of "printing" a student submission or a JSTOR paper and then highlighting, commenting, marking and grading. Everything in Journal is searchable including your handwriting. Print a form to journal and you can fill it out and print or save as a pdf and send it on. You can come close to not using paper at all. Other tools include sticky notes and the tablet pc input panel.
  • Microsoft Power Toys for Windows XP Tablet PC Edition - check this link for many useful general and discipline specific tools, e.g., Physics Illustrator, Music Composition Tool, Art Tool, and Calculator for Tablet PC)
  • Microsoft Education Pack - includes programs such as equation writer where you write a mathematical equation and it converts it to type-set quality. Also in this pack is "Send to One Note" a print driver that works like the Journal print driver does.
  • Microsoft Experience Pack - includes the most useful "snipping tool" which not only allows you to clip any area on the screen to your clipboard for copy and paste into another document, it also allows you to ink on the clip. I can clip a quiz question a student took in WebCT, write on it and then paste into an email to send back to the student to show him or her the correct answer or how to solve a problem. Also included is "ink desktop" which turns your desktop view into a ready memo pad for those quick notes. Someone tells you their phone number, you don't have to fumble around for a note pad and pen; you can just jot it down on the desktop.
  • MSN messenger -- I haven't tested it out, but you can send messages to each other in ink.
  • MS sticky notes -- from Microsoft, no more real yellow sticky notes. Now you can have as many virtual ones as you want and stick them anywhere in your applications. (Included in XP Tablet PC edition).
  • Avaya Message Manager -- it is so nice to be able to get my office messages and faxes when I am not in the office.

The third category is free and not so free software that I have acquired and use a lot.

  • Microsoft One Note -- incredibly useful. The idea is that everything is in one place, in a binder of sorts with tabs. You can have a conference folder and a tab with multiple pages for each different conference you have attended. All of the notes you took at a conference and "lost" are here and searchable. Another folder for classes, for personal stuff... etc. With the print to one note driver from the education pack you can send anything from a web page to a document to one note. It shows up in the "sent files" folder and you can easily move it at anytime to a better place or delete it after its usefulness has run out. For conferences, printing the city map and other highlights is indispensable.
  • SyncBack from 2BrightSarks.com -- a great backup and synchronizing program and its free. I use this to back up and keep in sync my tablet and my portable hard drive. I won't lose data again. I also use it for student grading. We have students save their work to a server. I can run SyncBack to make sure I always have on my laptop for offline grading all of the files submitted.
  • Audacity and the Lane MP3 encoder -- perfect for making podcasts. The built in microphone for the Tablet PC is pretty good as this was a design requirement by Microsoft. Nevertheless, I do use a separate headset.
  • ZD Soft Screen Recorder -- perfect for making video-casts. Will allow you to record anything on your screen and use a voice over. It creates a Mpeg4 file perfect for streaming.
  • Answer Tool -- a small database that stores answers for frequently asked questions. Great to use when you are answering the same question for many students each in separate emails.
  • DyKnow Vision and Monitor (DyKnow.com) -- An outstanding tool for presentation and collaboration in the classroom. This software will revolutionize how you collaborate with your students.

Where can I see some examples of Tablet use?

This blog, if you are reading this online, has many links to places that you may see how others are using the Tablet PC. I would also point you to the PowerPoint presentations on my web page. See the following:

Finally here is a page from U Tennessee - Martin with each faculty member from many disciplines telling how they use the Tablet PC. I find it interesting and instructive. (Here is their Gateway Case Study)

What Colleges and Universities embrace the Tablet PC?

Dakota State University (Univ. wide), Virginia Tech (Eng. college), Oklahoma State University (Vet School), University of Arizona (Eller College of Mgt. Tech), Villanova University (Eng. College), University of Virginia, Kansas State, University of Vermont (School of Business), MIT, Indiana University (Kelly School), Fort Hayes University (univ. wide), Mayville State University, University of West Florida (eng. college), Univ. of Mass-Amherst (committee report), Notre Dame (Tablet PC Initiative), University of Dayton, University of Houston (College of Tech.), Texas A&M (College of Architecture), University of Washington (College of Education), Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Executive MBA), U Texas - Austin.

Bentley College, Bentley College 2,

Summary Pages:

See also references in the Myers and Talley paper.

Case Studies: Tablet PCs and UMPCs in Education, (or full version from Microsoft Developer Network, Vista development center)

"Is this the future of college computing?" University Business, June 2003. (Matt Villano) citing University of Purdue and MIT.

"Tablet PC Benefits Overview," Virginia Tech College of Engineering.

"I Became a Born Again PowerPoint Fan -- Thanks to my Tablet PC"


UA is perfectly situated to create a campus that is an ideal mobile learning community because of investment in the support software systems, wired and wireless network and past experience of over six years in the laptop program. The faculty laptop program at The University of Akron should become the faculty Tablet PC program and the University should invest support in helping UA take the evolutionary leap in instructional technology.

Monday, January 29, 2007

On The Road And Mobile Again Prepping Part II: What Tablet PC Apps is Warner Crocker Packing?

Warner Crocker's blog gottabemobile.com is a great resource and well worth reading. It is in the list of blogs down the left side of this page. One recent post dealt with a trip testing a new mobile PC, but this post lists his most important apps he uses for the Tablet PC. You will find the list useful, I did. I read with horror the snipping tool is not available in some SKU versions of Vista. I use that program from the Microsoft Experience pack every day. I also realize that I have given no thought about moving to Vista and will need too. I can't list and link all the tools he feels are important, go to his post to see them. The better the apps, the more value the Tablet PCs.

Midwest Conference on Student Learning in Economics: Innovation, Assessment and Classroom Research, Nov. 15-16, 2007

This conference has been cancelled and will be rescheduled in 2008. We will post the new dates in this blog and on our department webpage.

After a one year interruption, we are pleased to announce that the MWC will be held on November 15-16, 2007. Again it will have all of the features you are used to in the 2003, 2004 and 2005 conferences. Please save the date and we expect to have a call for papers out very soon. Plan to attend and present on the campus of The University of Akron this November. If you are a vendor, be sure to contact us about being a sponsor of the conference this year.

Robert Morris Economic Teaching Conference

You can still register to attend the RMU Teaching Economics Conference sponsored by McGraw-Hill, February 15-17. Mark Eschenfelder and his staff do a nice job each year and the preliminary program is online. I have scanned the concurrent presentations and a few stand out to my tastes. These caught my eye for one reason or another.

  • Principles of Macroeconomics: Technology and Student Performance, Marcelo Arbex, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Real World Data for Economics Principles: Use of PCs in Teaching, Jui-Chi Huang, Harrisburg Area CC
  • Designing Synergies to Avoid "Death by PowerPoint" in the Economics Classroom (a practical demonstration)John Winn Shenandoah University
  • CPR for the Economics Classroom, Kay Strong, Bowling Green State University

The paper by Arbex speaks of technology and I am at once tempted and irritated by the question: "What technology?" Still he links it to student performance which is attractive. What technology improves performance? I do want to know. Huang addresses something I have been thinking about a lot, how to integrate PCs (and in my case Tablet PCs) into the classroom. Perhaps in this paper is a good idea I can use. On the last paper, Dan Talley and I have written about this in our latest paper on Tablet PCs in a wireless environment (see previous post). I am always interested in ways to avoid the "death." Kay Strong must think so as well -- great title Kay.

It should be an interesting conference again. If you go, let me know what you think as well. I will post the interesting ones.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Joe Calhoun and Clickers, Econ. Florida State

In Campus Technology's December 1, 2006 edition, there is a discussion of Smart Classrooms (101 Best Practices) and I would recommend that piece to you, however one piece features economics instruction featuring Joe Calhoun who presented this at the 2006 Robert Morris Teaching Conference.

In addition to Joe at #19, you will find
DyKnow at #29 and Ipods at #10.

Quoting Campus Technology:
At Florida State University, personal response systems (aka PRS or “clickers”) are used in the classroom to engage students in learning and provide instructors with immediate feedback. (Students answer a few questions per class period from questions embedded in the class Power- Point presentations.) To encourage faculty to incorporate PRS in the classroom, training for use of the systems is provided via a series of instructional videos created by Joe Calhoun, lecturer in the Department of Economics and assistant director of the Stavros Center for Economic Education. This approach, used in place of standard face-to-face workshops, lets faculty review the materials as many times as needed, at their own pace and convenience. A “how-to” video is provided for students and can be linked to/from an instructor’s website.
More info here. "

"Best Educational" Software Finalists

In a news update from Campus Technology today the finalists for the Higher Education 'Codie' awards from the Software and Information industry Association was announced. I wonder if it is accidental that the announcement comes on the same day the finalists for the Oscars are announced, but I digress. In the best education solution overall I see McGraw Higher Education Online Learning and Tutor.com. In the category of best post-secondary CMS is Angel Learning and in the best post secondary instruction solution is Turnitin.com. I looked hard to see if any of the Tablet PC unique software is listed and noticed none. We who have immersed in the Tablet PC world would have a completely different list: DyKnow.com, Classroom Presenter, One Note, Go Binder, MS Journal, (perhaps digital ink in Outlook and MSN Messenger), Adobe Acrobat, and Adobe Connect make up my list. What is yours? What software do you use that derives its value primarily from the platform of the Tablet PC? Comment or email me and let me know.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Tablet PC Education Blog: Request for Proposals: HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative

The Tablet PC Education Blog: Request for Proposals: HP Technology for Teaching Grant Initiative. This request for proposals is found on the Tablet PC Education blog and refers back to a blog at HP by Jim Vanides. He is the Program Manager - Worldwide Higher Education Philanthropy for Hewlett-Packard.

2007 Higher Education RFP
Deadline Thursday 15 February, 2007 5:00 PM PST.

Friday, January 12, 2007

A MAC OSX Tablet is announced

"Axiotron's ModBook: distributed by OWC, tollerated by Apple" as posted on Engadget.com by Paul Miller. To purchase see this link. It is apparently a slate since I see no pictures of a keyboard. It uses a WACOM digitizer. So now MAC users can join the mobile learning environment too.
Note / Update: It is not a slate, but a mac book with a Wacom screen attached. A hybrid of technology.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Tablet PCs in Economics -- Our paper is available to you.

Dan Talley and I began the year with an assignment to present to the AEA/CAI group at the recent ASSA Annual Meetings in Chicago what it meant to teach economics in a wireless classroom. We quickly decided to concentrate on the Tablet PC, but the more we did, the more we came back to a concept of a mobile learning technology environment with three legs: (1) the wireless network, (2) the system support software such as WebCT, and of course (3) the Tablet PC. Dan and I are both Tablet PC evangelists, we are eager to show how they work and how they can be used in and out of the classroom. The paper we wrote for AEA is called "Looking Beyond the Whiz-bang Technology: Using Mobile Learning Technology Tools to Improve Economic Instruction" and is available on the AEA website (click here to get the paper). The PowerPoint presentations we used are on my website (click here for the PowerPoint presentations).
The paper addresses three scenarios -- where the instructor has a Tablet PC and the students do not, where the instructor does and students bring laptops, and where the instructor and the students both have Tablet PCs. We hope that the teaching and learning community in economics profits from our work. However, the work will not stop with this paper, this blog will be the source and link to other assistance to using the Tablet PC in economics.

At the time of this writing only two papers are published about using the Tablet PC in economics, Mary Dixon and her colleagues at DePauw wrote about using DyKnow in economics (see previous post), and an unpublished manuscript by Phillip Holleran running a natural experiment of have and have nots. We certainly hope that many more follow so we may all benefit. We will try to highlight those papers on this blog.

The paper discusses, but the PowerPoint's show examples that come with all Tablet PCs such as the input panel for handwriting recognition and those that do not come with the TAblet PC such as Microsoft's Equation writer, free for download, as part of the Microsoft Education Pack. Many other programs are free for download in Microsoft's Education Pack, Microsoft Experience Pack, and Tablet PC Power Toys. Our paper covers some of these.
Still there are other programs that are much better to enhance the experience and designed for Tablet PC use. One such program is Classroom Presenter (see Richard Anderson, University of Washington) and DyKnow Vision (DyKnow.com) both of which are designed to enhance collaboration between instructor and student.

For now, enjoy the paper and post your comments here or by email to us, or join the ongoing discussion on tch-econ.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

iPods in Economics

At the ASSA conference I enjoyed seeing the various posters in the AEA/CEE Poster Session on Teaching Ideas and Projects organized by Rae Jean B. Goodman. One in particular I knew would be of interest to readers of this blog, Jean Shackelford's "iPods in Economics? Technology for Enhanced Active Learning." I talked to her for quite a while and she admitted to recording and trying just about everything from lectures to short vignettes. Her paper is available on AEAweb.org (click here).

You can listen to her presentation by clicking here. I thought, how clever is that -- to present your paper on podcasting via a podcast.

I have posted an alternative method to record podcasts in an earlier posting (click here) and have made use of such recordings to send explanations back to students when neither typed words nor digital ink were enough. My own hypothesis is that few students will ever listen through all of a lecture, but smaller amounts on specific topics might just be the trick.

Best quote of the evening:
"It isn't about how you use technology to improve education, it's how you rethink education in the context of technology." -- Rick Rashid, Microsoft Research Chief, quoted in an article on iCampus (MS-MIT's 7 year initiative to study technology and education)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Bill Gates at CES or All About VISTA

Last night I watched the over one hour keynote address by Bill Gates at CES, Las Vegas. Not susprisingly, the topic was the new operating system Vista. I marvelled at the fact that I was many states and many hours away from the event, but here I was watching Gates describe what is happening as part of the 'digital decade.' The text of the speech and various video feeds are available on the microsoft website here.

I was very interested in certain features of Vista and how all of our electronic devises were being merged. Since my wife and I have talked about putting in a home server, I was particularily interested in the introduction in the second half of 2007 of the HP Home Server which will identify and automatically back up all devices in my network and can be expanded by adding more hard drives at the hardware leve. The software (something like MS Home ServerSoftare) will identify the extra space and automatically incorporate it.

What's this to do with teaching economics? Everything. Vista will bring to all computing devices the special features now only available to the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition. This means greater compatiability to the computer (what ever it is) used by our students and the Tablets that each of us economists are likely to want to use as our next laptop.

Go look at the video, if you have the time, the demonstrations are certainly worth it.

Click here to view Bill Gates' CES Keynote
Update from the Microsoft Education News
January 9, 2007

Ready for a new day
The launch you've been waiting for is finally here: Windows Vista operating system, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. Be among the first to see these products in action at local launch events or online demo sites. <http://go.microsoft.com/?linkid=6029481>

More Tablet PC Research

I just received Dave Berque, Jane Prey, and Robert H. Reed (eds.) The Impact of Tablet PCs and Pen-based Technology on Education, Purdue University Press, 2006. This is an excellent compilation of papers presented at the first WIPTE (Workshop on the Impact of Pen-based Technologies on Education) held last year at Purdue.

The book has 21 short papers from a variety of disciplines (including Economics thanks to Mary Dixon, Kerry Pannell, and Michele Villinski of DePauw, who contribute "From 'Chalk and Talk' to Animate and Collaborate...", pp 49-55.) The reviews I have read are from encouraging to overall positive that the Tablet PC is an evolutionary leap in a technology that will assist student engagement and learning. More research is on the way from many sources, but the same conference will reconvene this year.

There is a current call for participation for the June 11-12, 2007 WIPTE and that deadline is February 1, 2007.

Dan Talley (Dakota State) and I did a review of Tablet PC value and made some suggestions for assessment research at the ASSA Annual meetings to the AEA/Computer Assisted Instruction group just a few days ago. More on that later when I get things posted.