1 Tablet PC Applications in Statistics Education, Part I Christopher R. Bilder 1, Christopher J. Malone 2 1 Department of Statistics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2 Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Winona State University, Abstract This paper presents ways to use Tablet PCs for statistics education when the instructor is primarily the only one with a Tablet PC. Basic applications of their use for lectures and grading are discussed. More advanced applications are given including their use in capturing classroom content when paired with recording software and transmitting classroom content through web conferencing software. Key Words: Class capture; Computer; OneNote; Podcast; PowerPoint; Word 1. Introduction Chalk and slate. Pencil and paper. These items have been the traditional tools used for the delivery and reception of information in a classroom for a long time. Over the years, there have been a number of delivery advances, including overhead projectors, visual presenters, and data projectors connected to laptops. Recent advances for reception include students typing notes directly on laptops in the classroom. Unfortunately, there are still a number of drawbacks with using these tools. For example, PowerPoint presentations used to deliver lectures are set in advance before class often resulting in static lectures and preventing modifications to respond to student needs. Instructors may use chalk and slate to augment this delivery method, but chalkboards frequently are hidden behind projection screens that are used for the presentation; thus, making difficult the simultaneous use of the chalkboard and presentation. Also, students who use pencil and paper for taking notes in class can not insert text easily between previously written lines and can not automatically search their notes like how one can with computer-based documents. Typing notes on a laptop removes these issues, but results in other problems. For example, it is difficult to type diagrams, arrows, and equations into a document, and type these items quickly during class. A solution to these problems of delivery and reception is to use a Tablet PC. Tablet PCs were first introduced in They are like regular laptops, but include a digitizer pen that can interact with the screen in the same way as a mouse. Also, the pen can be used to write on the screen in the same way as how one can use a pencil to write on paper. Therefore, using a Tablet PC to deliver information in a classroom allows instructors to combine the freedom of chalk and slate with computerized presentation content. Using a Tablet PC for the reception of information in a classroom allows students to merge the flexibility of writing with the advantages of computer-based documents. The two authors here have used Tablet PCs since Tablet PCs have been slowly catching on elsewhere in academics, including university-wide adoptions. These adoptions include Winona State University in 2004 and Virginia Tech s College of Engineering in In both examples, all students have Tablet PCs to use with their coursework. Additional examples include Tablet PC use in secondary education at the Cary Academy, which is supported by Jim Goodnight and SAS (Cooperman, 2008). Also, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) football team uses Tablet PCs with the Huddle System, which was created by two UNL students as part of an honors project, to help players understand plays and game strategies (Bruntz, 2007). The purpose of this paper is to provide examples of how Tablet PCs can be used in statistics education. Due to space restrictions, specific details for the implementation and assessment of their use will not be discussed, but some details are available at This particular paper will focus on learning environments where the instructor primarily is the only one with a Tablet PC. A separate presentation entitled, Tablet PC Applications in Statistics Education, Part II, was also given at the Joint Statistical Meetings. This presentation focused on learning environments where students have Tablet PCs in addition to the instructors. Both the Parts I and II presentations were recorded using Camtasia Studio, and their recordings are available at The outline of this paper is as follows. Section 2 briefly gives the basics of Tablet PCs. Sections 3 and 4 provide examples of how an instructor can use Tablet PCs during class and outside of class. The incorporation of class capture technology with Tablet PCs is covered in Section 5. Distance education applications are given in Section 6. Finally, Section 7 provides concluding comments. 2. Basics There are many software packages that permit writing from a digitizer pen. These include most of the commonly used Microsoft Office software packages, such as Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, but also other members of the office family such as OneNote that allows one to take notes, record audio, record video, and synchronize recordings with pen
2 strokes. Non-Microsoft software that permits writing includes BlueBeam PDF and PDF Annotator. These software packages are useful for reading and annotating PDF files, such as journal articles. The GoBinder software package allows one to perform many of the same tasks as OneNote. There are a number of software packages that do not permit writing from a digitizer pen, including R and SAS. However, a pen always can be used in place of a mouse. Also, instead of using a keyboard to type text, the pen can be used with the Tablet PC Input Panel as shown in Figure 1. The Tablet PC Input Panel can be opened quickly, and the pen can be used to tap out text. Alternatively, the pen can write out words that its handwriting recognition translates to typed text. With Windows Vista, this handwriting recognition component can be trained to improve its translations over time. 3. During class To illustrate how to use a Tablet PC in class, this section focuses on a spring 2008 example from the first author s UNL STAT 950 class. The class is entitled Bootstrap Methods and their Application, and it is primarily for Ph.D. students in the UNL Department of Statistics. This particular semester, Ph.D. statistics students from Kansas State University (KSU) took the course as well. The two classes were linked by a Polycom conferencing system that transmitted live audio and video between the two locations through Internet2. The conferencing system provided a way to record all class sessions as well, and these videos are available through Figures 2 and 3 show screen captures for the class video that illustrate how the Tablet PC was used in the classroom. The left side of Figure 2 shows the first author at UNL standing behind his Tablet PC. The right side of Figure 2 shows his Tablet PC screen. Both the UNL and KSU students were able to see both sides. Only the Tablet PC screens are shown in Figure 3 in order to save space in this paper (the reader can zoom in to view them better). In class this particular day, the first author went through a typed set of Word 2007 lecture notes that each student brought to class. Content is added during class by the instructor writing on the Word document in red digital ink. Other ink colors are used sometimes to distinguish items. Below is a list of how the writing was used to add content in these screen captures: Notation and equations are further explained, Text is circled or arrows drawn to point like a laser pointer, Plots are drawn to illustrate what quantities represent, and Blue ink is used to highlight typos found before class. Documents can begin to look quite messy when there is a lot of writing in them, especially at the end of a set of writing. However, these fixed-in-time screen captures do not show the process of how the writing was done over time, which is what students see in a classroom setting. If needed, the writing can be erased easily. Figure 4 shows screen captures from the class video. During this class, a jackknife-after-bootstrap graph (see Section 3.10 of Davison and Hinkley (1997)) was being described to the students. This can be a particularly difficult graph for students to understand because there are multiple items being plotted. The first screen capture shows the beginning of how annotations are made on the plot in Word. First, the x-axis and y-axis quantities were given for further clarification. Next, the horizontal dotted lines were labeled to be particular quantiles from a resampling distribution. The second screen capture shows the final annotated plot. After the horizontal dotted lines were explained, the numerical values at the bottom were highlighted in yellow and their specific values given. Next, the asterisks in the plot were shown to be quantiles from a different resampling distribution that excluded individual data values as represented in the subscript. Finally, green highlighting was given to illustrate that many of the asterisks were close to particular horizontal lines. Again, the actual video available through gives the verbal inclass explanation of the graph. There are a number of ways that Tablet PCs can be used to obtain student interaction during class. Fill-in-the-blank questions can be posed in a set of lecture notes. The instructor can ask students for the answer during class and actually fill-in-the-blank with writing from the pen. Also, proofs can be done interactively in class. One way is to provide some proof steps in a document that students bring to class. During class, the instructor can go over the proof and add written steps to the document as needed. Finally, because all written annotations can be saved in a document, these documents can be posted to the course website for students to download after class. There are actually better ways for students to obtain records of the instructor s written annotations during class, and these will be discussed in Section Outside of class A Tablet PC can be used for grading student assignments when students turn in Word, PDF, or other file types. Grading electronically has a number of advantages over the traditional grading with red pen on a paper copy. First,
3 grading electronically saves the natural resources that would go into making the paper. Second, grading occurs in many different areas, including the office, home, library, and even airplanes. Carrying paper copies of student assignments from place to place can be difficult depending on class size and assignment length. Grading electronically allows the instructor to take only their Tablet PC with them. Third, graded assignments can be returned to students electronically to allow for quicker feedback. This enables a student to see their grade and what they did wrong before the next class session. Students can prepare questions to ask during the next class. Finally, grading electronically allows one to erase and rewrite comments. For example, suppose a student incorrectly answered a problem and a -2 was placed next to it. Later, the instructor goes back to that problem and sees the student actually should have missed more points. If a paper copy was graded with a pen, the instructor would carefully cross out the original point deduction so that student did not see it. If the problem was graded on a Tablet PC, the instructor simply could erase the previous point deduction and replace it with a new deduction. Figure 5 shows part of a graded assignment from the first author s UNL STAT 380 class, which is an introductory statistics class for undergraduate, non-statistics majors. The student group for this assignment received a 36/40 grade. The right side shows where they missed some of their points. Part c asked the students to find a confidence interval for the difference of two proportions using the Agresti and Caffo (2000) interval. The students gave the correct confidence interval equation, but then proceeded to replace parameters with their estimates resulting in the loss of two points. In part d, the students did not interpret the confidence interval correctly, so the instructor wrote in the correct interpretation. Through this example, one can see grading with a Tablet PC occurs much like grading a paper copy with a red pen, but now there are the benefits of grading electronically. Tablet PCs can be used to help critique student presentations. Using OneNote with a webcam allows an instructor to take notes directly on a Tablet PC while having the audio/video recording of the presentation synchronized with the pen strokes. Figure 6 is a screen capture from OneNote during a playback of a student presentation. In this setting, a student gave a practice presentation to her advisor on her M.S. research, which later would be presented to all departmental faculty and students. The advisor took notes in OneNote while recording the presentation with a webcam. After the presentation, the advisor and student were able to simply click on parts of the written notes to arrive at a particular place in the recording. Figure 6 shows a specific example when the advisor thought the student should pause more. By clicking on this phrase, the student could see the point in the presentation that led the advisor to write the comment. There are many other uses of Tablet PCs outside of the classroom. For example, many virtual office web applications allow instructors and students to communicate through a whiteboard. Information can be written on these whiteboards with a mouse, but the written text may not be very readable due to the awkwardness of writing with a mouse. The pen of a Tablet PC can be used instead of a mouse to provide a more conventional writing environment. More sophisticated virtual office hours programs, such as those for web conferencing (see Section 6), allow an instructor to take control of a student s computer. In this setting, the instructor can write in a document on the student s computer. Outside of student and instructor interaction, office activities that involve taking notes can be simplified and better organized through the use of a Tablet PC. Instead of writing on a paper notepad while taking notes during a meeting, one can write on a Tablet PC. The electronic document with the written notes can be saved to a folder on the computer and easily accessed later when needed. The Tablet PC now becomes a substitute for a filling cabinet. 5. Class capture Class capture is a term used to describe the recording of audio and video content during a class session. These recordings are made available to students for playback after class. Implementing class capture in the past would have involved a student or professor bringing a tape recorder or camera to the classroom for recording. Now, there is software, like Camtasia Studio and Adobe Captivate, that can be used to record the audio inside the classroom and the video of what appears on the instructor s computer screen. After class, the instructor can provide students with a vodcast of what occurred during the class session. If a webcam is available, live-action video can be recorded as well. Campus-wide computer systems, like Tegrity, Echo, and CourseCast (free for educational use), can be used instead to automate the audio/video file creation. Because all of these software and computer systems can record the content of what appears on the computer screen, a Tablet PC can further enhance what they provide students. An instructor simply needs to use the Tablet PC for any written annotations made during class in order to capture almost all of the classroom content. An example of using a Tablet PC in this setting comes from the first author s UNL STAT 875 course. The course is on categorical data analysis, and it is for graduate statistics and non-statistics students. Through the course website, students can view Camtasia Studio recordings of what occurred during each class. Because file sizes increase significantly with live-action video, only the video of what appeared on the Tablet PC screen and the audio of classroom lectures and discussions was recorded. Figure 7 gives a screen capture of a video playing in Internet Explorer. The left
4 side of the screen shows an index that allows students to access particular parts of the video quickly. The bottom left gives play, pause, and stop buttons. The main part of the screen shows the Tablet PC screen while a PDF document was open in PDF Annotator. The document is Bilder and Loughin (1998), which is a journal article on modeling field goal kicking in football using logistic regression. The red ink shows all of the annotations made during class on a particular page. For example, there is a down arrow drawn to help emphasize that the odds ratios decrease as a function of the field goal distance. Again, because all interaction with the Tablet PC is being recorded, students can obtain a playback of almost all content given in this lecture-based class. 6. Distance education The UNL STAT 950 class example from Section 3 provides an example of how a Tablet PC can be used in a distance education setting. The equipment used to enable the UNL and KSU Internet2 connection is quite expensive and involved technical support people at both universities. An alternative way to implement a distance education course without costly equipment and technical support staff on hand is to use commonly available web conferencing software (e.g., Connect Professional, Live Meeting, Dimdim, ) that links everyone together at the same time. This enables faculty to teach a course from anywhere and students to take the course from anywhere. The Tablet PC advantage in this setting again is being able to easily interact with a computer screen. There is no external camera needed in order to transmit written content appearing on a chalkboard. The main disadvantage to using web conferencing software is that communication may be delayed due to the use of a central server that connects everyone (instead of a direct connection between locations). For example, this can cause small delays between spoken communications that are a little worse than those experienced through cell phones. The UNL STAT 875 class was taught on through Adobe s Connect Professional web conferencing software. The first author was visiting another university on this particular date. Instead of canceling class, a regular class was held with students attending it from wherever they could access a computer. Figure 8 shows a picture of the instructor s tools used for teaching the course: a Tablet PC, a webcam, and a second monitor. The second monitor was used to show the instructor what was being transmitted by Connect Professional, including the chat room where students would ask questions. Figure 9 shows screen captures from the class video. The upper left side shows the webcam content, the middle left-side gives the students attending, and the bottom left side shows the chat room. Students could ask questions verbally too provided they had a microphone with their computer. The main part of the screen captures shows the Tablet PC screen. Similar to other examples, the Tablet PC is used to add content that would be difficult to accomplish in this setting with a regular computer. The first screen capture shows how the Tablet PC can be used to annotate R output, and the second screen capture shows how the Tablet PC is used to emphasize that some quantities cancel out in an odds ratio calculation. The use of Tablet PCs in distance education can be implemented in other ways as well. For example, because UNL has the only Department of Statistics in Nebraska, a number of students from Omaha make the one-hour drive to Lincoln to attend classes. As an alternative to driving, the first author has broadcast the regular classroom session live through Connect Professional so that the Omaha students can attend class from wherever they are located. This approach of having students on- and off-campus offers a hybrid environment for teaching that could be scaled up to meet the needs of the distance education students. If handling both on- and off-campus student questions during class is unmanageable, a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) could be assigned to serve as the off-campus student representative. This GTA could monitor student questions in the web conferencing software and either answer the questions directly or ask the instructor their questions during class. The Texas A&M Department of Statistics has recently started a distance education program for an M.S. in statistics that is somewhat similar to the idea above, but they use Wacom monitors instead of Tablet PCs ( TAMU launches online Master s programs, 2008). These monitors are like Tablet PCs in that they allow writing on the screen. On- and off-campus students are registered for the same course sections. All classes are recorded using Camtasia Studio so that the off-campus students can watch them after they take place. 7. Discussion Tablet PCs allow faculty and students to combine the freedom of writing with the practical advantages of computer technology. From simply adding content to a computerized set of notes to combining computer use with recording and web conferencing software, Tablet PCs have opened up new ways to present content to students. References Agresti, A. and Caffo B. (2000). Simple and effective confidence intervals for proportions and differences of proportions result from adding two successes and two failures. The American Statistician 54(4),
5 Bilder, C. R. and Loughin, T. M. (1998). It s Good! An Analysis of the Probability of Success for Placekicks. Chance 11(2), & 30. Bruntz, M. (2007). NU Football: Players can study their assignments on computer screen. Omaha World-Herald August 6, Cooperman, S. (2008). Goodnight high. Forbes Life, April 21, Davison, A. C. and Hinkley, D. V. (1997). Bootstrap Methods and their Application. New York: Cambridge University Press. TAMU launches online Master s programs (April, 2008). Amstat News, No. 373, 31. Figure 1. Two views of the Tablet PC Input Panel in Windows Vista. The top image shows the keyboard, and the bottom image shows the writing pad. Figure 2. Full screen capture from the UNL STAT 950 course video on
6 Figure 3. Tablet PC screen capture only for the UNL STAT 950 course video on ; these captures are from the 24:19, 48:16, and 53:51 time points in the video. \ Figure 4. Tablet PC screen capture only for the UNL STAT 950 course video on ; these captures are from the 45:46 and 54:23 time points in the video.
7 Figure 5. Word document graded with a Tablet PC. Figure 6. Screen capture of OneNote during a playback of a student presentation. Figure 7. Screen capture of a Camtasia Studio recording for UNL STAT 875.
8 Figure 8. Web conferencing set-up for the instructor teaching UNL STAT 875. Figure 9. Screen captures of Adobe Connect Professional used for teaching UNL STAT 875.