Digital tablet PCs as new technologies of writing and learning: A survey of perceptions of digital ink technology. The purpose of this study was to investigate effective uses of digital ink technology in an elementary mathematics methods course. All of the items on the survey produced response means between 5. The findings indicate positive perceptions regarding the benefits of the use of digital ink technology. These methods, systems of application, and material surfaces have been changing throughout the years.
The tablet PC sometimes referred to as tablet is one modern example making changes to all three of these areas. Tablets have come a long way from once being made of smooth clay or papyrus. Some of the oldest tablets of this nature date back to BCE and still exist due to their kiln-dried hardening process or resilient inks. At that time a stylus was used while the clay was still wet to make wedge-shaped letters called cuneiform, from the Latin cuneus- wedge and forma- shape. Many of the convertible laptops, slates, and tablet PCs in use today have a stylus-based input and navigation system.
These newer mobile technologies employ digital ink technology by way of the stylus. Inking is the ability to scrawl i. The main difference is that the inking method uses pixel imaging and the surface is the screen, or in other words, the digital image of the document. Digital ink technology is changing the way students can take notes in a course, as well as the teaching methods that an instructor can use to modify the notes to enhance learning.
The capabilities of digital ink technology go beyond that of paper and pencil for both the student and the instructor. Students have the ability to write on electronic documents and save their inkings to the document. They also are able to convert their handwritten ad hoc notes to text and orient that converted text into the original document.
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The text, possibly a meld of handwritten and original text, is fully searchable. This offers students a way to take digital notes during class, review and search through them later to reinforce understanding and, thus, improve memory retention. Instructors are able to supplement their prepared notes by capturing writing, drawing, pointing, annotating, and highlighting that occurs during or after the class presentation. Instructors are also able to produce more interactive learning possibilities in their notes.
One recent study using the tablet PCs to teach a programming unit recognized the importance of learning through a social environment and emphasized active engagement of the learner. The impact of this technology is new, and more studies need to be done about the impact it is having on teaching and learning from the perspective of both the student and the instructor.
This paper is the result of a developmental research project involving a cyclic process of thought experiment i. In this process the thoughts of the designer about the instructional materials are tested in an actual classroom. Materials developed are not left unchanged; they are constantly revised and improved. Observation of the presentation of the lessons, reflections on these observations, and student surveys are used to explore and answer the research questions. The project focuses on improving the use of this feature of tablet PCs in order to increase discourse and justification of answers in a mathematics methods course.
The participants in this study were members of two successive cohorts of college students completing a bachelor of arts degree in the elementary education program of a small, liberal arts, 4-year institution.
The preservice teachers at this accredited institution of higher education move through this program as a cohort or group of students, taking all of their coursework together. One semester prior to their professional semester, which constitutes the capstone experience in the preparation of teachers and includes a full-time student teaching experience, the students enroll in three methods courses.
At the beginning of this semester, students in the cohort are assigned a tablet PC to use. They are free to use this tablet PC in all of their coursework that particular semester, as well as take the tablet with them wherever they may go. The participants in this study had limited exposure to digital ink technology prior to receiving their tablets.
A survey of both cohorts reported that most students had seen this technology in grocery stores on signature machines for credit cards, Palm pilots, and other PDA devices. For all students except 1 out of the 36, however, the introduction to stylus-based digital ink input and navigation on a convertible laptop, tablet, or slate was completely novel. To establish content validity, the initial survey instrument was examined by a panel of two other instructors teaching with digital ink instructional technology.
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The panel suggested several wording changes and provided two additional questions to add to the survey. All of the recommendations of the panel were addressed, and changes to the survey were made. Sixteen of 20 students in the fall cohort and 20 of 20 students in the spring cohort were surveyed using the revised instrument two thirds of the way through the semester in which they were assigned the tablet PCs.
Consent was obtained and the students were told that neither their participation in the study nor the evaluation of the survey would impact their course grade. There was no missing data, and 36 of 40 students in the two cohorts completed the survey. Simultaneously throughout the developmental research project, the researcher was designing materials and methods capitalizing on the use of the digital inking capabilities of tablet PCs. Nine different types of effective high-quality inking practices thought to improve instructor-learner dialogue were employed as follows:.
Controlling an active learning environment. The instructor, as moderator of the session, controlled the projecting rights of the view projector. Assessing for Instructional Decision-making. Concurrent and preformative assessments for instructional decision-making were employed using the inking features of the tablet.
Various student responses to these items were projected on a whiteboard accompanied by discourse centered on verbalizing the knowledge the students brought to the learning opportunity. As the instructor viewed the work of several students, inconsistencies in the inked responses helped to identify their misunderstandings about necessary and sufficient conditions for geometric definitions. Drawing attention for learners.
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Demonstrating solution strategies and thinking processes. Problems incorporated in the course required students to present and explain their solution strategies or explain their thinking processes by making them visible via digital ink. Some problems required a geometric approach, while others required some type of mathematical or physical representation to find a solution. These problems often required multiple steps to arrive at a solution. Refining thinking processes. Some problems posed in the course required mathematical thinking that was not directly accessible to most students.
However, as students built upon the incomplete individual thinking processes demonstrated on the tablets, the group eventually arrived at better, more refined, thinking processes. Appendix C is an example in which the students were given a task to develop an algorithm for finding the area of any polygon on a geoboard. To test the robust nature of their algorithm they were given nine different polygons with which their algorithm should be confirmed.
The projection system supported sharing and discussing the various inked solution strategies, as well as the specific cases for which their algorithms were either successful or unsuccessful. Examples and counterexamples using the inking and projection system helped students to identify the flaws in their invented algorithms.
The challenge problem required a test of the invented algorithms to find the area of a concave polygon like the one shown in Figure 1. As students employed a chop-strategy algorithm the inkings helped them build a recursive outside-to-inside strategy, which served as a guide for students who were close to verbalizing the idea of recursion in the chop-strategy algorithm. As shown in Appendix C students were able to break the figure apart, put the relief polygons onto other geoboards and apply the chop-strategy.
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