May 10 2005
My daughter has recently inherited by old Tablet PC, a TC1000. She has an auto-immune disorder and secondary Raynaud’s and these conditions mean that she suffers from cold hands, is very stiff and not that strong. As a result she often struggles to carry her bag around and with writing. About a year ago I wrote an article explaining why I thought a Tablet would help here and a few weeks ago I demonstrated my Tablet to the school teachers and her assessors. As a result they have agreed that they will try and get her a grant for a Tablet ready for high school which is great news. In addition they will get her a book scanner. Although scanned books are not perfect, nor many eBooks, as I mention here, they are often better than paper.
In preparation she is taking her Tablet into school 3 days a week to get used to the logistics and the envious kids and how to deal with them. Since she got the Tablet I noticed that she has started using the computer at home a lot more as well. I often find her sitting in bed browsing the web, writing her journal etc.
In this context I was interested to see this report on a trial of Tablets for kids of Jen’s age group, some interesting quotes are:
Carnegie Mellon University is conducting an experiment at The Ellis School and one of CMU’s own classes in which traditional textbooks are replaced with a Tablet personal computer. The HP Compaq 1100 Tablet PCs weigh 4 pounds and have been adapted so students can highlight key passages on the screen and write on the e-text with a digital pen. Students also can send their homework on the Tablet PCs and get material from their teachers.
They mention an important caution, which is especially an issue for A4 content, not so big an issue with text books:
“Nationally, students have not warmed up to e-texts at first because they saw little advantage in them,” said Diana Oblinger, vice president of EDUCAUSE, a nonprofit group in Boulder, Colo., interested in technology in higher education. She said the print on the screen used to be harder to read than regular texts, and the software lacked features to encourage people to use it.
That is beginning to change as new software lets students do more things than they could do with a textbook.
Others have Jen’s problem too:
Before this experiment, Chao said her 6-year-old brother Bobby could not even lift her bookbag, which often contained four textbooks and three binders. The bookbag of her classmate Heather Acuff, 14, of McCandless, was so heavy that she used to roll it around on wheels.
It has changed the way teachers work:
Nine eighth-graders at Ellis have replaced their hardback geometry and earth science texts with Tablet PCs. The geometry class uses software developed by Shadyside-based TextCENTRIC that allows students to highlight passages and trade material with their teacher.
Math teacher Russ Schopper presents a problem on a computerized blackboard. The same image appears on the students’ 8-by-10-by-1-inch computers. A split screen lets the students solve the problem on one side and refer to the textbook on the other.
Kids have the same problems we do with PC’s:
Ellis students complain of long startup times for the PC and the danger of computer crashes, but the benefits, they say, outweigh the disadvantages.