Most academics have experienced the uncomfortable silence that can follow a complicated question in class. It’s a challenge – how can you monitor student progress when they don’t speak up? Dr. James Wakefield, who lectures within the Accounting Discipline Group of UTS Business School, has found an innovative solution in tablet computing annotation. After seeing similar technology used at a conference, Dr. Wakefield decided to trial it in first-year accounting classes. The trial has been a huge success, with the results recently presented at the UTS 2016 Teaching and Learning Forum. The team involved in the study – Dr. Wakefield, Associate Professor Jonathan Tyler, Dr. Laurel Dyson and Dr. Jessica Frawley – are now looking to publish their results as a paper. We talked to Dr. Wakefield to find out more about tablet computing annotation.

What is tablet computing annotation?

Tutor Raechel Wight using tablet computer annotation in class.
Tutor Raechel Wight using tablet computer annotation in class.

One of the many benefits of tablet computing annotation in the classroom is that it cultivates a collaborative learning environment. To get started you need a tablet device and an annotation app, like Evernote or OneNote. Your tablet display is then mirrored to the classroom projector so that all the students can see it. Students use the tablet to display their work on the screen, and the instructor and members of the class give feedback. Dr. Wakefield explains, “What has really helped has been the tailored feedback that allows you to focus on specific questions, which can be quite lengthy and complicated in Accounting. This technology means you can really drill into the problem”. With the class working together, it’s an efficient way to minimise stress for less confident students, as Dr. Wakefield says “A few students will share their homework, which will then encourage others to participate. This technology makes it okay to get answers wrong”.

How is it effectively implemented in the classroom?

To be effective though, this technology should be used carefully. “It’s really important that in teaching the students, you don’t make assumptions or judgments about them. Your teaching style is very important”. Like any teaching device, tablet computing annotation benefits the classroom when it is implemented in the right scenarios. While the tutors found it wasn’t ideal for theoretical questions, it was a great way to talk through basic procedural questions. For now though, the first-year trials have worked well and the technology will now be rolled out across all introductory Accounting tutorials and a number of other subjects. “We’re pushing for it to be used across all tutorials in accounting. A challenge has been that the classroom technology in the rooms isn’t always up to date, but we hope by next year all the classrooms are equipped with HDMI connections”.

For more information, you can contact Dr James Wakefield at, and keep an eye out for the research paper to be published in the future. You can also watch the video below to see the technology in action.

Photo by Billy O’Neal / CC BY

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