Nowadays, more and more university classes are given by means of slide-based presentations, possibly including multimedia content. Advantaged of such presentations are well-known: slide-based presentations permit teachers to prepare well-polished materials, leveraging textual and multimedia features available in modern presentation software; moreover, as the literature points out, multimedia learning can enhance class effectiveness, facilitating retention and comprehension of concepts.
Unfortunately, slide-based presentations also have shortcomings. In particular, taking notes becomes quite difficult and the result is often unsatisfactory. Typically, two scenarios can be considered. In the first one, the teacher gives slides in advance to her students; students, then, print slides and take notes on them, or in a notebook where printed slides are also inserted. In the second scenario, students do not have slides during the class; they do not take notes at all or, conversely, they try to write all the slide contents, usually failing to sustain the pace of the presentation. In both cases, the result is often messy and the probability of errors or misunderstandings is quite high.
These issues particularly affect students that have problems in taking notes; for example, think of students with learning, motoric or sensorial impairments.
The objective of PoliNotes was the design and development of a collection of software applications that allow convenient note-taking during slide-based classes. Such applications permit students to receive on their Tablet-PCs the slides presented by teachers, in real time. Students can edit objects contained in the slides, as well as add their own pen-based notes. The resulting notes, thus, contain text, images, video, sounds, and hand-written parts (sketches or phrases).
We argue the proposed solution could effectively support students that have problems in taking notes, as contents of the slides are automatically added and less handwriting is needed.
The first version is implemented, and experimentations are planned in the following months. Developing the system, however, we noted that OneNote, although interesting and feature-rich, is not as intuitive and easy to use as it should be.
Therefore, we are planning to implement our own note-taking application, simpler, with fewer features, but easier to use. The new note-taking application will be developed under Windows 7, on a multitouch Tablet we already own.