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Dr. Charles Kim

Dr. Charles Kim
October 2007


As a young researcher, Dr. Charles Kim assumed that a Ph.D. would automatically make him a teacher.   But he learned otherwise.  After years of reading pedagogical articles, attending workshops, trying out new strategies, and conferring with other teachers, he says he has finally become “a teacher who also does research.”   During his professional development, he discovered that teaching required much more than knowledge of his discipline.  It required an understanding of learning, including experiential learning.  Therefore, as an Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, he set out to create an experiential learning environment in his classroom, and he succeeded by harnessing the power of the Tablet PC.

Using Tablet PCs funded by a Hewlett-Packard Teaching with Technology Grant, Dr. Kim combined two separate lecture and lab courses into one mobile studio class that integrated lectures, problem-solving, computer simulations, and laboratory experiments.  With the Tablet PCs, network interface cards, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Mobile Studio software, students could bring the lab into the lecture room.  (Click here to see photos.) As a result, a monotonous engineering lecture could become a dynamic studio, where students could draw, scribble, and instantly test the lecture theories and concepts. (Click here to compare a traditional lab assignment with a mobile studio implementation.) Moreover, the Tablet PCs allowed students with wireless access to carry their labs “anywhere anytime,” overcoming the time and space limitations of the traditional classroom and lab.  This hands-on mobility enabled students to “experience the full cycle of experiential learning,” Dr. Kim explains: “abstract conceptualization…active experimentation…modification…concrete experience…reflective observation…and general derivation of rules.” 

screenshotAssessments conducted by Dr. Kim and a professor in the School of Education confirmed that the mobile studio enhanced student learning of core engineering concepts and engaged more students in classroom and extracurricular activities related to the course subject matter.   Students particularly appreciated the connection between academic theory and real-world practice.  Thus, one student stated, “I learned about the basic application of the theory of inductance and capacitance and its uses in an everyday system, including an electric guitar.”   Another applauded the “hands-on interaction with the concept being taught,” and another, the “interactive display of theory.”  Yet another exclaimed, “I liked the fact that we were able to see exactly how real life things come into play regarding Electrical Engineering.”  Still another reported, “Prior to this class and project, I had no idea how frequency selective circuits worked.  Now, however, whenever I’m operating an appliance like a CD player or radio and making adjustments to the treble, bass, etc., I can actually picture what’s going on in the circuit, which gives me a sense of joy as an aspiring engineer.” 

In addition to enhancing teaching and learning, the mobile studio also proved far more cost-effective than equipping a classroom with a traditional lab.  Any place with tables, chairs, and wireless access can become a lab that one can instantly set up and instantly remove.  Consequently, with support from Lockheed Martin, Dr. Kim is helping faculty convert other engineering and science classes into mobile studios not only at Howard but at other historically black colleges and universities.    




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