NASA Visualization Explorer App being used on a tabletBy 2017, half of the British population will use a tablet*. The device has found its place in many households, but how is it – or can it be used in the context of teaching and learning? Prof. Frank Cowell, winner of an LTI grant (now SPARK! grant), and his Research Assistant, Xuezhu Shi looked into how tablets could be used by teachers in their lectures and devised a guide to help them select the right material and tools to use them as a “virtual chalkboard”

Why use a tablet in your lectures? The Teaching with Tablets guide offers this simple answer:

In teaching you often want some mixture of formal methods – prepared slides or other documents – and informal, spontaneous material, hand-written or hand-drawn on the spur of the moment.[…] It is often convenient to write or draw on your documents – in the same way as if you were in a 1-to-1 with a student in your office. […] You can do most of what you need with your own tablet, hooked up to a projector. You use your tablet as a virtual chalkboard.

Connecting a tablet to the lecture hall projector therefore has the advantage of using a single tool when presenting and annotating content. It also allows for more flexibility in terms of delivery as the teacher will have a wide range of applications to choose from, instead of having to use a program that is installed on the room’s PC.The same goes for the choice of tools, i.e. the device and its accessories.

Diagram of how to connect a tablet in a classroom

 

Connecting your kit- Teaching with Tablets, page 12

After presenting the benefits of using a tablet, the guide details the material necessary to set up and connect the device, offers a comparative list of tablets, pens and apps, and finishes off with some instructions on getting everything ready, along with a few tips on annotating a presentation using the tablet.

Want to know more? Have a look at Prof. Cowell’s guide

*The Guardian, 2nd October 2013