CSC News

November 08, 2004

Faculty Forum: Using Tablet PCs and Silicon ChalkTM


COE Student Owned Computing (SOC) Faculty Forum

Title: Using Tablet PCs and Silicon ChalkTM to enhance a technology driven classroom through inquiry guided learning

Location: College of Textiles, Room 2117 (Near Atrium)
Date: December 2, 12-1
Presenter: Jeff Joines

Feel free to bring a lunch.

During this semester, I have been experimenting with a Tablet PC as an effective teaching tool as well as using the Silicon Chalk Software to enhance collaborative learning. This forum will discuss my experiences as well as demonstrate Silicon Chalk Software while using my Tablet PC to demonstrate a few key points using our laptop cart over at the College of Textiles.

I think Tablet PC can be used as a smart blackboard and transform the laptop/computer into an inquiry guided learning tool. I will talk about my hybrid approach using the Tablet PC and keyboard. See comments below line for my feelings of the advantages of Tablet PCs as a teaching tool.

Silicon Chalk software is used in a face to face classroom setting where each student has access to a computer-wired/ wireless laptop or in a PC lab. Silicon Chalk facilitates and enhances the activities that are typical in synchronous learning environments: presentation, discussion, note-taking, feedback, quizzing, collaboration, and more. Faculty can control which software programs students can and cannot use. At the end of a classroom session each student leaves with a unique recording including the teacher’s presentation and voice combined with the student’s personalized notes. The recordings are portable, fully searchable and can be further annotated during playback or review.

For more information on Silicon Chalk see below as well as some of the advantages I have found using a tablet PC.

I look forward to seeing everyone. Please pass this along to other faculty and staff who might be interested.


Assistant Professor
Textile Engineering


Advantages of Tablet PC

The difficulty in drawing intricate diagrams is one of the expressed drawbacks often given by engineering and computer science faculty for not embracing, or even experimenting with, computer-based instruction. In many disciplines, faculty need to draw and manipulate designs to solve problems such as labeling and diagramming electrical circuit problems, drawing chemical compounds, etc. Even though I am one of the biggest proponents of using technology in a student-centered classroom, I only utilize computers/technology in the computer information systems class but not my analog and digital electric circuits classes. In order for inquiry guided learning to take place (i.e., "immediacy response"), I need to be able to readily draw and label circuit diagrams as well as solve problems based on student feedback and questions. This is quite difficult to perform using standard computers/laptops. Therefore, the black board and/or document station is the preferred method of instruc! tion media.

One of the keys will be to engage technology-hesitant faculty in implementing technology-based teaching practices by utilizing Tablet PCs as an advanced blackboard tool. Tablet PC's will promote activities where natural handwriting can be used to draw diagrams in response to student questions, record students' verbal responses, elaborate on slide contents and draw attention to key concepts previously unavailable or difficult in other computer-based presentations.


Silicon Chalk

In conjunction with laptops and Tablet PCs, the Silicon Chalk softwareTM ( will be employed to further enhance the student's learning in and out of the classroom. Created by the founder of WebCT, the Silicon Chalk software was designed to integrate the benefits of technology into a student-centered teaching environment. Silicon Chalk has created software that seeks not to replace, but to support and extend classroom activities such as presentation recording, demonstration, note taking, questions, and discussion.

Silicon Chalk transforms the computer into an collaborative tool for the classroom. It provides the teacher with ways to encourage participation and enhance critical thinking skills. It improves student outcomes by helping the student capture and organize the information presented in class. It ensures that class time is effectively used by keeping students on task by allowing only certain software to be used. Additionally, it allows remote students to participate in class activities, as if they are in the classroom. The following is a list taken directly from the Silicon Chalk website describing some of the features and how it can address the first issue described.

· Students take notes so they can study more effectively - Silicon Chalk makes these notes searchable, as well as cross-references them to material being presented in class, including the teacher's voice.

· Students study in order to improve their grades - Silicon Chalk puts all the information from the classroom at their fingertips, making it simple for students to find and review the material that is most important to them.

· Teachers ask questions in class to gauge student understanding - Silicon Chalk allows them to quickly collect and view answers from all students, rather than just a few.

· Teachers engage their students in dialogue to make them actively think about issues - Silicon Chalk allows the teacher to engage the whole class, even those who are too shy to speak up.

· Teachers perform demonstrations in order to make concepts more concrete and relevant to students' everyday lives - Silicon Chalk records all demonstrations for students and allows them to play them back when studying.

Return To News Homepage