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The Write Technology

August 29, 2004, 9:52 PM

This weekend hundreds of KELOLAND college students left home to start another school year. That means paying for classes, buying books and stocking up on school supplies.  While many people may purchase notebooks, 800 students and staff at Dakota State University will be getting tablets -- computer tablets.
 
Look around a DSU classroom and you'll see plenty of tablets, but barely any paper. And when you talk about tablets at Dakota State University, you're talking about ones that come with keyboards.
 
Schneider says, "When you use a notebook you'll spill coffee on it, your dog will eat it or some excuse like that, with the tablet you have an electronic format to keep it and share it."
 
For DSU senior Erick Schneider the tablet literally lightens his load.  Schneider says, "I myself at first wasn't very open to it, and then after using it the last few month, I wouldn't give it back."
 
Wayne Pauli, teacher, says, "We're taking full functioning computer that were not heard of a few years ago in size and speed and now in a laptop size with ink into it."
 
Schneider says, "My handwriting is quite bad and it picks up most of what I write."
 
The computers turn handwriting into typing or students can make notes on any documents.
 
Professor Tom Farrell says, "We feel it's going to encourage participation in class."
 
At less than 6-pounds, students and staff can turn them around to look like a tradition laptop or keep them like a legal pad.
 
Pauli says, "No matter where we go, we are hooked up to the internet."
 
Farrell says, "With the tablet it's simply a matter of clicking onto the air projector and the student's answers or problems that they're having the students can see."
 
The tablets update the idea of going to the chalkboard to share your answers. Professors Wayne Pauli and Tom Farrell also changed their teaching. Old tests and quizzes like this, now look like this on the new tablets.
 
Pauli says, "Many of the professors use paperless as much as possible."
 
But you can catch a piece here and there. And Schneider, who graduates in December, sees this as the right technology step.
 
Schneider says, "Hopefully in the real world it will start getting used more in business meetings. I'll have that under my belt and say, hey I've managed these tablets. I know how to use them."
 
Pauli says, "Technology is going to be ever evolving, changing. This is the next step in it."
 
Freshman and sophomores will lease the computers with the fee being part of tuition. It's optional for juniors and seniors.  Since hearing about DSU's work with the tablets, other colleges from across the country have been in contact with the school to get ideas on how they can do the same thing.

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