As the title article from the EDS’ Next Big Thing Blog suggests tablet computers in higher education may be the new direction to take in campus computing. Laptops can be “impractical and unwieldy” in some situations, such as when the open laptop screen blocks a student’s view of the professor, or when 25 pairs of typing hands can distract everyone from a presentation:
Laptops take up most of a student’s desktop. Once the laptop is open, the screen partially blocks the student’s view of the lecturer. Limited typing ability also hinders laptop use. PocketPC and Palm devices are in many ways more suited to classroom use, but are somewhat limited by their small screen size and the frustrating amount of scrolling required to access Web pages.
For faculty, a tablet can replace the black/whiteboard when connected to the projector, so that faculty would never have to turn his or her back to the class, not to mention that the writing can be captured, saved, and distributed to the class. And if you prefer to handwrite comments on papers rather than using the comment/reviewing features in Word on electronic submissions, you “can directly annotate by hand over the document, save and return the document to the student without having to print or type in comments on the document.”