Teaching Engineering Material with a Tablet PC Abstract As a long time “blackboard and chalk” teacher, I have had a strong bias against most instructional technology, feeling that it takes away the spontaneity and human interaction that are so important in creating excitement in the classroom. In my teaching fields (circuit analysis and electronic design), the teacher must be doing the thought process that is being taught and actively engaging the students in it, not just reading to them about it from slides. Initially opposed to Virginia Tech’s tablet PC initiative, after I saw how tablets could be used, I volunteered to teach the first tablet-based “gateway section” in my department, a 128 student class in introductory circuit analysis. This paper describes what happened and explains how my classroom technique changed. It presents my techniques for using tablets to teach mathematically difficult material that has high visual content. It discusses my equally positive experience with a subsequent tablet based senior/graduate design course as well as in my current junior level class. The paper makes my case for why tablets with the right software are the best tool for engaging students in the engineering analysis and design thought processes, and for showing them how problem solutions evolve in time. Literature Review The only literature on teaching with tablet PCs and DyKnow of which I am aware is either under review or is a keynote presentation I gave earlier this year and which this session is based on. Goals and Objectives In this session I summarize my experience in teaching electronic circuit analysis and design (material with high mathematical and graphical content) to large and small classes at the sophomore, junior, and senior/graduate levels. I make the presentation using the DyKnow software, giving both a narrative of my own experiences and illustrating the pedagogical techniques that I use. Assuming that we can make the necessary technical arrangements, I will encourage the audience to load a demonstration copy of DyKnow on their own tablets or laptops and participate in the session as if they were students. While I will present some limited quantitative data describing evaluations of student performance and student evaluation of tablet based courses, I will primarily emphasize my perception of the students’ reaction to this teaching technique and how it changed what I do in the classroom. At the end of the session, participants will understand how tablet-based teaching with DyKnow is done. They will know whether or not they want to try it, and they will have sufficient background to get started if they wish to do so. While my focus is on teaching electrical engineering, the pedagogy should apply equally well to any disciplines with high mathematical and graphical content. Description of the Practices to be Exemplified. Figure 1 shows the instructor’s view of DyKnow. The large screen to the left is the public screen; it is what the students see. Anything the instructor writes on the public screen appears on the students’ tablets. Each student can write on his or her own copy of the public screen. The students are not required to copy down what the instructor writes or projects; this is automatically saved on their machines. The students just write the notes that they need to supplement what the instructor is saying or doing. At the end of class each student has a copy of everything that the instructor presented annotated with the student’s own notes. And each screen can be played back in real time or slow motion, allowing the student to review the sequence of steps that the instructor used in making the presentation. Figure 1. The instructor's view of DyKnow. The small screen to the right is the instructor’s private notebook. No one else sees it. The private notebook plays the role of paper notes in an old style classroom and the public screen plays the role both of the blackboard and of each student’s notebook. DyKnow allows the instructor to prepare graphical material in advance exactly like Powerpoint, and Powerpoint files can be imported directly. It goes beyond Powerpoint in allowing both the instructor and the students to write on the graphical material, retain what was written, and play it back later. It also includes feedback features that allow the instructor to monitor the class’s attentiveness and understanding. See Figure 2. Figure 2 Example screens and feedback feature. DyKnow offers interactive tools that include allowing any student, selected students, or students to write on the public screen (under the instructor’s control). The instructor may assign students to work groups, each of which shares its own public screen. Students may submit individual screens when requested by the instructor in a process analogous to turning in papers. I will illustrate how to use some of these features. Discussion I will encourage participants to try this teaching technology and to share their observations and experiences.