HP Tablet PCs in Project-based Courses


The University of Guelph received an HP Technology for Teaching Grant, consisting of HP Tablet PCs and a faculty stipend, to support a pilot project in the Department of Computing and Information Science. Dr. Qusay H. Mahmoud is the principal investigator of this project and he's looking into integrating Tablet PCs into project-based courses. Press release.


We are using HP mobile technology to facilitate teamwork in project-based computer science courses. In addition, students learn about the Tablet PC technology, and practice their programming skills to develop applications for this emerging market. In a Distributed Programming course, students have developed some collaboration tools for active participation in meetings.

Impact on Teaching

Several of our courses have a group project component in which students hold weekly meetings to brainstorm solutions and work on design documents. In some cases, several groups do not have a single laptop to facilitate their group work, and some group members may not be able to make it to the meeting and would prefer to work from home.

The Tablet PCs have provided the necessary tools for group projects. In addition, students have learned about the potentials of the Tablet PCs and how to develop applications for this new market.

One of the major concerns about using this technology is the instructor’s extra time in preparing material, so that is an indicator that needs to be measured on the short-term vs. long-term of the use of the technology.

Impact on Student Learning

Students have gained practical experience in using Tablet PCs and developing applications for this new market. This has been done in one course (Distributed Programming) so far and we hope to integrate this technology into other courses.

The key aspects of learning are the experiences students gain from working with the Tablet PCs. We are planning to measure students’ opinions and satisfaction with the technology, changes in students’ learning, and usability of tools developed.

The students have enjoyed developing distributed applications for the Tablet.


The first project-based course to integrate the HP Tablet PCs was Distributed Programming II, which is a 4th year courses offered in Summer 2007 at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. Students in this course work in groups to design and develop a distributed application that goes beyond simple message passing. The Tablets arrived just in time, but we received the French edition and had to send them back to be replaced with the English edition, but HP was kind enough to let us use a few of the French edition for the course. Two groups of students chose to design and develop applications for the Tablet PCs.

Students have developed two applications: a dot-line game for kids, and a collaborative tool for effective and active participation in group meetings.

Dots Game

This application is an intuitive, user-friendly and interactive, multiplayer version of the game commonly played by young children (paper-pencil medium), known as the Line Game (or Dots and Squares). Here is a screenshot of the application:


This application allows individuals working on a group project to work together concurrently and share their thoughts and concerns with each other. The group who develop this application has also produced a video clip (see below). Here is a screenshot of this application:

Student have learned about the potentials of Tablet PCs for interactive learning, and gained practical experience in developing distributed applications for this emerging market. In the near future, we’d like to use Tablet PCs and the applications we have developed for outreach activities. In addition, we'd like to explore the potentials of Pannex for distance learning ... especially in introductory programming courses.

Video Clip

The students who were involved in the HP Tablet PCs project graduated in December 2007. Many of these students are now working in the IT industry, but three of the students who developed Pannex are now working with me on their Masters degrees and they have kindly produced a short video clip about their project. Enjoy this video clip.

Contact Us
Your comments and suggestions are welcome. Please send your comments by email: Qusay H. Mahmoud (qmahmoud[AT]uoguelph.ca)

This page is maintained by Qusay H. Mahmoud (
qmahmoud[AT]uoguelph.ca). Last modified May 2008.