Prof. Ralf Hiptmair: Tablet Teaching: Five Years On

I am regularly teaching large undergraduate service courses (Numerical Methods for CS(E),Numerical Methods for Differential Equations) in computational mathematics. These courses have an algorithmic focus, that is, involve the discussion of computer codes, but also treat mathematical theory. In addition, results of numerical computations are discussed regularly. During the past two years I have converted these courses into flipped classroom format and I offer a plenary two-hour question and answer session once a week.

For more than five years I have been using my Linux laptop in combination with stationary A3-size tablets (now installed in big lecture halls). This offers the combined advantages of (i) being able to develop mathematical arguments like on a blackboard and (ii) of the possible inclusion of prepared images and nicely formatted formulas and text like in slide-based presentation. Moreover, the tablet provides incredible flexibility, because text can be moved and extra space and pages can be inserted easily, which allows the quick restructuring of material in response to students’ questions and comments. Switching between pages is fast and easy. Moreover, the lecturer, unlike during a blackboard presentation, can face the audience most of the time. Seamless integration with online teaching modes is possible. Finally, lecture notes can be dispatched as PDF immediately after class and can even be corrected later.

In my presentation I am going to demonstrate all this and communicate some lessons I have learned over the years. It is important to use a large tablet which can hold an amount of material equivalent to a big blackboard on one page. It is advisable to stand and walk away from the tablet occasionally. Proficiency in using the note-taking application is essential.