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in economics, Mary Dixon and her colleagues at DePauw wrote about using DyKnow in economics (see previous post), and an unpublished manuscript by Phillip Holleran running a natural experiment of have and have nots.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 ( 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.

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