Campus Life

Tablet PCs enhance learning for business students

Tablet PCs are no longer just for computer and information technology students. Faculty at the University of West Florida (UWF) are adopting the technology for use in business and management courses. With the technology, students can move beyond simply observing a teacher’s presentation in the classroom by interacting with the teacher, other students and materials during class.

The use of pen-based tablet PCs are the future of technology in business, according to Jun Wei, associate professor of management and MIS (Management Information Systems) at UWF. Becoming acclimated with the technology in the classroom not only enriches the learning experience, but also gives students an advantage in the job field.

“So many elements of business are moving into the portable realm,” said Wei. “Tablet PCs are the future of business, and our students are ready.”

Wei currently shares eight tablets between three classes, provided by a Technology Enhancement Grant. She has applied for a total of 30 from the Department of Education.

“Right now, students share them in groups, which promotes team work and cohesion between students,” said Wei.

The technology adds new dimensions to the learning environment. For example, when Wei or another professor is sketching a diagram on a whiteboard in front of class, a student seated at a desk with a pen-based tablet PC can modify the diagram to share his or her version.

In addition, students can communicate with the instructor remotely, share work with other groups and edit graphs and charts in real time. Students with vision disabilities can also enlarge teaching slides on their individual tablets.

“Students are able to use [tablet PCs] to perform a variety of analyses that typically require the use of formulas,” said Arup Mukherjee, chair of the Department of Management/MIS. “This way students and teachers are now able to spend more time interpreting the data for decision making.”

According to research by Wei, no other university has adopted the use of pen-based tablet PCs in business and management courses, giving UWF an innovative edge.

“I haven’t seen any other institution using the tablets in quite the same way we are,” said Wei. Other universities use tablets for computer and information technology classes, not business or management courses.

Wei has also conducted surveys of the students who have been using the technology for a year. Those students stated they were more motivated in class, enjoyed the higher level of interaction and found the analysis of complex problems made easier.

“The students enjoy the technology and find their educational experience is improved by it,” said Wei.

Teaching methods are also improved by the technology.

“I have more interaction with students during class,” said Wei. “They can complete assignments in class and submit them to me for review in real time. I can also monitor electronic group discussions and advise on formulas or diagrams.”