Using the Galaxy Note as a blackboard

30 May 2013 by ICTO TEAM
Mark Bakker (CiTG)

Replacing the traditional blackboard by an iPad in the course “Geohydrology 1” (CIE4420). By doing this, the disadvantages of the traditional blackboard are eradicated, while the advantages are maintained. So far, the experiences are satisfactory.

Project description
Traditionally, the blackboard was used to work out formulas. In contrast to using PowerPoint presentations, the advantage of this approach was that students could witness the live development of formulas. Moreover, taking notes in class increased the understanding of the matter. However, during the class itself one couldn’t refer back to notes put on the blackboard a few minutes earlier. And, of course, students could no longer consult the fully developed formulas and annotations after the class had ended. Students watching the lectures online through Collegerama were also hindered: the system was not always capable of capturing clear images of the blackboard. 
The academic year 2012/13 witnessed a trial in using the iPad as a blackboard. Through this it was established that a majority of students prefered notes and annotations on an iPad to a PowerPoint presentation. The iPad notes were clearly visible on Collegerama, and could be downloaded as a PDF from Blackboard.
Fortunately, Samsung had realised there are also people who prefer to write with a pen (stylus) on a tablet. Their Galaxy Note contains a slot with a compatible thin pen which makes it very easy to work with, especially compared to the usage of (fingers on) an iPad. Coming from iPad, one might has to become familiar with the operating system (Android) of the Galaxy Note, but once acquainted with the system, it will perform satisfactory.


Figure 1. The Samsung Galaxy Note and stylus.

The Galaxy Note (we used the “10.1 2014” edition; it’s all in the name…) delivered a great performance when used with the included stylus. We placed a reception table in the lecture room, which made it possible to use the tablet while standing in the front of the class. The notes were easy to read and could be instantly uploaded to Blackboard. 
Connecting the Galaxy Note to the TU Delft projectors turned out to be a hassle. In most lecture rooms, the projectors only accept a VGA input. Our setup often didn’t function properly due to the need of converting the HDMI output from the Galaxy Note to the lower resolution projectors. We tried using a cable for this prupose. This solution seemed promosing, but along the way the system jammed several times, and at the end of the course, it did no longer function at all. We’re still looking for a proper alternative. Or should we upgrade the TU projectors…?
32 out of 37 students prefered using the Galaxy Note over PowerPoint, and 34 out of 37 prefered it over writing notes on a conventional blackboard. 32 out of 37 participants stated that they had actually downloaded the PDF output from Blackboard. 


Figure 2. Notes made on the tablet during a lecture.

Tips for colleages

  • The Samsung Galaxy Note is a great lecturing tool, but make sure to become familiar with the system in advance.
  • Try to find a projector which is HDMI compatible, or wait for a proper cable that converts HDMI to VGA.
  • Avoid using PowerPoint for discussing equations, use the Galaxy Note instead.

More information

Teacher: Mark Bakker (CiTG); email:
Year: 2013-2014

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