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Piloting a Use of Graphic Tablets to Support Students Drawing within a Secondary School in Iceland

University of Iceland

Abstract: This paper reports a research study, undertaken during the autumn of 2011, within a secondary school in Iceland. The author tried to gain experience of using digital or graphic tablets for drawing, in a school context. The research study was based on observations within a complex social/educational context, in a school classroom. Data was gathered in a naturalistic way and analysed, according to the principles of the grounded theory of Glaser and Strauss (1967). The aim of study was to develop an understanding of the value and possibilities for using more advanced drawing technologies within a school based education. The researcher based his research around the following questions: 1. What are the differences between conventional drawing and drawing with graphic tablets? 2. What is the value of using digital tablets for drawing, within the context of secondary school education? 3. How can the students’ abilities to draw using digital input devices be improved?

Keywords: Graphic tablets, drawing, digital output devices, secondary school, design, research.

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Gisli THORSTEINSSON, Piloting a Use of Graphic Tablets to Support Students Drawing within a Secondary School in Iceland, Studies in Informatics and Control, ISSN 1220-1766, vol. 21 (2), pp. 201-208, 2012.


Using graphic tablets technology enables students to develop drawings and descriptions of their solutions supported by CAD and digital output devices. A study was undertaken in an Icelandic secondary school, using graphic tablets to facilitate students design work within the context of a classroom. The aim of the study was to gain understanding of the meaning of using digital drawing in the context of images developed by students during their work. The produced data was qualitative and analysis based on grounded theory principles and an interpretive paradigm.

Three data instruments were used to enable triangulation: observation, students’ drawings from tests in the classroom, interviews with the teacher, interviews with individual students, screen captured videos and video recordings in the classroom. Using remote observation software allowed the collation of a rich record of actual computer work activity in its natural work setting. A qualitative and inductive methodology, developed by Glaser and Strauss (1967), was used to analyse the data. Moreover, the data analysis was supported by postgraduate students at Loughborough University.

The rapid rise of computers and digital output devices has seen the introduction of novel forms of education and learning supports (Page, 2011). Such learning comes in a range of forms and is therefore difficult to characterise. However, it is important to examine the way new technology is used in school and its value for learning as it offers many possibilities and will replace the idea of teaching as a form of information provided by an instructor during lectures and printed course materials (Page, Thorsteinsson, Niculescu, 2009; McInnerney 2002).

The study examined the possibilities of using digital output devices for drawing. The process attempted to understand the value of conventional method using a simple pencil and drawing tables. The author observed the impact of students’ drawing on their drawings and designs.

A drawing tablet is a digital input device that enables a designer to hand-draw images, alike to the way someone draws an image with a pencil and paper. Such tablets may also be used to capture figures or handwritten signatures. It can, furthermore, be utilised to trace a sketch from a paper which is taped to a surface. Capturing figures in this way, both by tracing or entering the corners of linear poly-lines or forms are named digitizing.

During the study, use of graphic tablets was identified as an interesting part of students drawing inside the classroom. It affected both the time it took to generate solutions and the qualities of the work. Furthermore, it concerned the students’ ability to express their thoughts and communicate their ideas.

The author firstly introduces the pilot study and reviews the literature. Then, he discusses the research design, the undertakings of the research study and the findings. Finally, he analyses the outcome and draws his conclusions.


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