Enhancing Student Learning Using Spatial Technologies, Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, and Group Work
A Collaborative Project of The Teaching Center, Geospatial Information Systems (GIS), and the Departments of Education and History
This project has received the 2007 Hewlett-Packard (HP) Technology for Teaching Leadership Grant. Washington University is one of 10 higher education institutions in the U.S. that have been selected by HP to receive this grant in 2007. The HP grant initiative was designed to support the development of mobile technology environments that positively impact student learning.
The grant provided the following HP technology:
2 Wireless Tablet PCs with Docking Stations, External monitors, and DVD-CDRW Optical Drives
2 Digital Projectors
For the Classroom
40 Wireless Tablet PC’s
40 DVD/CDRW Optical Drives and External Bays
2 Laptop/Tablet Carts
1 Access-Point with Wireless Card
1 DesignJet Wide-Format (24”) Poster Printer and Supplies
1 Photo-Smart Digital Camera
The Teaching Center: Regina Frey
Education: Keith Sawyer
GIS Facility: Aaron Addison
History: Tim Parsons
Courses Supported by the Grant
This project focuses on bringing real-life skills into the classroom using spatial technologies, active-learning exercises, and group work. It is expanding the use of tablet PCs into humanities and social science courses, specifically in Education 204: Introduction to the Learning Sciences (a core course in the Learning-Sciences minor) and in the freshman-focus course International and Area Studies 180: International Development (a core course in the International Leadership Program). One of the mobile laptop sets will be used for in-class GIS training in University courses that are using GIS applications.
Students integrate software use better during in-class exercises versus outside exercises, as seen by our previous experience using tablet PCs in Chemistry. Combining learning the software with learning the concepts increases students’ abilities to understand both the software and the concepts being taught. We want to apply this teaching methodology to our application of GIS in many disciplines and computer-supported collaborative-learning (CSCL) software in Education.
We plan to introduce the use of these tablet PCs as mobile laptop labs for other courses using GIS starting this fall (2007). The coordinator of the GIS center, who is currently responsible for GIS training in the computer laboratory, will be responsible for in-class training and scheduling of the mobile laptop carts. The in-class GIS training will typically require one or two sessions per class. The fall introduction of the mobile laptop labs for in-class GIS training will allow us to gain experience in using the laptops for in-class GIS training before we integrate them fully into the spring 2008 International and Area Studies 180 class.
The key skills to be addressed with the tablet PC technology are more efficient training on class-specific software (CSCL for Education 204 and GIS for International and Area Studies 180) and increased collaborative work among students in their group projects.
In EDU 204, students form teams to design computer-based learning environments. The tablet PCs will enable the students to receive hands-on experience with the latest CSCL software via in-class learning activities, which will facilitate the students’ abilities to design their own computer-based learning environments. The laptop capability will also encourage collaborative classroom dynamics by allowing students to assemble in groups while they work on their laptops.
In IAS 180, students divide into four interdisciplinary teams to propose practical solutions to real-life development problems, and then present their plan to actual development experts. The tablet PCs will allow students to perform in-class GIS training and initial analyses, thus facilitating their learning of how to use the software. The GIS software will be used to help students analyze development problems, determine effective remediation strategies, and perform more complex analyses. The tablets will also enable the student groups to perform initial project work in class, where instructors are available to facilitate group dynamics.