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Electronic Tablets for 9.01 Delayed

By Stacia Swanson

Budget cutbacks have delayed the distribution of electronic tablets to students in Neuroscience and Behavior (9.01) beyond the end of the term.

The tablets, which effectively serve as a cross between a spiral-bound notebook and a laptop computer, allow students to view lecture presentations, jot notes, send e-mail to a professor, and take pictures.

Over the course of the semester, the date set for the introduction of the tablets was pushed back as more budgetary limitations were imposed.

“Everyone was supposed to get one at the beginning of the semester ... but we didn’t get there,” said Research Assistant Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, who has been spearheading the project.

Students get trial tablets

Last week, six students in the class were given the tablets to try out for the remainder of the term. An additional ten tablets are on order, and are overdue for delivery.

Students who currently have the tablets have found them useful.

“Everything about it is nice except for the fact that it’s pressure sensitive -- the pen makes my writing big and sloppy,” said 9.01 student Gargi D. Khare ’05, who received one of the older versions of the tablet.

“There are some programs that [C. Jordan Gilliland G] wrote that are good for studying. Right now, the tablets are about equivalent to laptops. But once they get integrated into the curriculum, I think they’ll be a very useful tool,” said 9.01 student Farhan I. Merali ’05, who received the newest model of the tablet to test. Gilliland is the designer of tools for the tablets.

Tablets aim to eliminate paper

Faculty intended to include the electronic tablets as a means to “eliminate paper from the classroom and increase the learning of students,” said Gilliland, who has been working with the paperless classroom initiative.

Gilliland praised the ability of the tablets to enable students to view handouts in color. “These are complex anatomical handouts -- it’s hard enough to make sense of them without dealing with the fact that they’re black and white,” he said.

“Second term, I teach anatomy, and color becomes even more important,” said 9.01 lecturer and Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences Gerald E. Schneider.

Students in 9.01 currently receive about 3,000 pages of handouts each term. Of these, less than one percent are in color.

The 9.01 staff is continuing to pursue the paperless initiative. A focus group is currently being planned for the Independent Activities Period. “We have some tablets, and more are on order. We’re continuing to pursue more sources of funding,” Gilliland said.