This phenomenological study examines academicians’ beliefs and lived experiences of using tablet PC based on the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). Participants included 15 academic staff working at a university in Turkey. Data were collected through in-depth semi-structured interviews and subjected to content analysis. The main themes that emerged from the data include reasons for purchasing tablet PC, usage patterns, professional and instructional implementation, comparison of a tablet with other PCs, future expectations of tablets, and opinions about tablet experiences (performance increase, advantages, health issues). The results showed that academicians were satisfied with a tablet PC and used it for presentation, social media, and routine tasks. However, they did not prefer it as a first PC option and they found it inadequate for all their works due to the limitation of subject-specific applications, incompatibility issues, difficulty in writing, and tendency to maintain previous PC usage habits. The findings did not indicate any reduction in the need and use of other PCs due to tablet ownership. Overall, this study supports the interaction of HCI components (user, tool, environment, tasks) and TAM components (perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use) and their effects on the adoption and use of a technological tool.
Tablet PC, Human–computer, interaction, Technology acceptance, Academic staff, Phenomenology
A computer is an arithmetic machine that has the extensive capability of processing and storing information (Wittich and Schuller, 1973). The first modern example of computers whose invention changed the face of the last century was produced for simple math calculations in the 1940s. Having been continuously developed since then, computers have been employed in many areas by means of software packages coded in various programming languages. The development and diffusion of the Internet have increased the importance and functions of computers. Today, there are macro–computers developed for institutional tasks such as database management of organizations as well as microcomputers designed for personal usage (Baecker, 1995). Personal computers are now smaller in size, faster in speed, more economic in price, and more widespread in usage.
Computers have undergone a lot of physical and functional evolutions since the day they were invented. Technological advancements have enabled them to become more powerful and functional in smaller sizes. The desktop was the beginning model of the personal computer (PC), but its relatively big size was the most important disadvantage. Later, laptop PC was manufactured as a remedy for this problem, but it had also some limitations such as short battery life and difficulty of its portability. Hence, manufacturers were in search of computers with lighter weight and smaller screen sizes. As a result of such pursuits, mobile devices such as personal digital assistant (PDA), tablet PC, and smartphone were produced. They have many features and can do a number of tasks as much as a laptop or a desktop can do, but people generally consider them as an alternative PC (Lank and Phan, 2004; Lin et al., 2004).
Tablet PC is becoming very prevalent among people of all ages. This attracts researchers to investigate people’s expectations, actual usages, and perceptions of tablet PC. Such research is needed to reveal the place and importance of tablet PC in society. Particularly, the opinions of educators who guide the change and accumulation of society and their interactions with tablet PC are worth considering. Therefore, in this qualitative study, we deeply examine academicians’ beliefs and professional usages of tablet PC. Our research goal is to explain how academicians describe the essence and meaning of their lived experiences with a tablet PC. The theoretical framework of the study is composed of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), which deal with human behaviors towards information and communication technologies.
Discussion and Conclusion
When interview records and findings are examined, the ease of portability seems to be the most important reason for academicians’ choice of tablet PC. In addition to this, they seem to be affected by the social sphere consisting of advertisements, friends, and comments in the decision to buy a tablet PC. They have not read any scientific articles about it before buying their tablets. They get the necessary information from advertisements designed to sell the product, unfiltered internet reviews, or subjective opinions of friends. According to these findings, the tablet’s ease of portability, elegance, and appearing as a social status tool in society are the main determinants of its adoption. In fact, some participants think that enthusiasm about new technology, peer influence, and feeling of becoming more valuable and charismatic due to the ownership of tablets led them to buy a tablet PC. These findings show that HCI components (e.g., user, tool, environment, tasks) affect the reasons and thoughts of purchasing a tablet PC. The brand appears to be the most important factor for academicians’ tablet preferences, getting ahead of the performance, price, ergonomics, and so on. This indicates the power of the brand in increasing the positive perception, emphasizing the importance of intention as a TAM factor. Therefore, consistent with the previous studies (Lederer et al., 2000; Özer et al., 2010; Lin, 2013), our study supports the premise that perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use impact the intention to use a technological device.
Academicians’ thoughts vary before they buy a tablet PC. It is clear that they want to use it like a desktop or a laptop. This is not surprising because people expect to carry out their habits on their new tools. It is hard to perform a task by using two different devices. In general, findings show that participants have these concerns. The interviews do not indicate any reduction in the need and use of other PCs for those who have started using tablet PC. Another important point here is that habits guide people. People wonder new technologies and show interest to their innovations, but they also want to continue their habits. This supports the idea that the most complex aspect of the HCI domain is the user (Çağıltay, 2011).
Participants state that they can easily use the tablet but cannot do all their works on it. This situation complies with the perceived ease of use factor of TAM but not with the task component of HCI. Task ensures that users can do what they want to do with technology (White et al., 2005). The interviews with academicians reveal that tablet PC are not adequate to do all their works. Tablet PC is a device that can always be with users because of easy portability. Half of the participants always carry their tablets and use them continuously if needed. Other participants prefer to keep the tablet at home and use it at the end of the day. The main factors for using the tablet mostly at home include lack of subject-specific programs, difficulty in academic writing and preparing lecture notes, and using tablets mostly for communication and entertainment purposes. Another important detail in the explanations is that half of the participants keep the smartphone with them constantly. They believe that they can do most of their works on the phone and thud they do not want to carry a second device.
One of the important aspects of our study is the investigation of academicians’ tendencies of using tablet PC in their professional and teaching activities. We found that participants who have also managing positions used the tablet as an active agenda. Some academics used multimedia applications for visualization purposes. Some used as GPS devices. Similar results exist in the literature as well (e.g., Clegg et al., 2006). It is possible that people who go on short trips can remotely manage their businesses through their tablets. Besides, tablet PC provides the academicians who study in technology areas with the opportunity to improve themselves. In terms of teaching activities, academicians want to use tablets actively in class, but they seem to have some difficulties with it. Generally, instructors prepare course presentations on a desktop or a laptop, but they prefer a tablet PC for presentations. For this reason, academicians think that it is inadequate in preparing a presentation. This thought is affected by the unfamiliarity with tablet PC and its applications, inexperience with the use of touch– screens, and the tendency to maintain previous PC usage habits. The results show that some of the participants communicate on tablets with each other about lessons and research studies and share related documents. This demonstrates that the use of tablet PC contributes to teaching and learning outside the classroom. Besides, it marks that tablet has the potential to increase communication and interaction between teachers and students.
Although participants’ opinions on the advantages and disadvantages of tablet PC vary, ease of portability and learning is expressed as the important advantages while the inadequacy and incompatibility of applications are seen as major disadvantages. It is salient that participants have dissimilar opinions about the issues of screen size and difficulty of reading. Some prefer tablets for reading, while a few see tablets weak for reading. Likewise, some note that the tablet’s screen size is wide and sufficient, while others state that tablets with larger screens will be more functional. The divergence here comes from user characteristics and their preferences. Especially in the technical fields, it is natural to ask for tablet PCs with larger screens. Some participants suggest that tablet manufacturers can solve this problem with foldable screen technology. Again, these findings support the opinion that the user is the most complex component of the HCI. Therefore, it is difficult to produce a product that will satisfy all users. Different users are in contrast to each other about the same function or feature. Another important issue is that tablet PC usage is affected by changes in the environment, indicating the importance of the context component of HCI. Academicians using tablets in different areas and environments use different functions of their tablets and thus they have different expectations and satisfaction.
Academicians’ use of tablet PC is not similar to their previous habits on computer usage. Participants hope to use a tablet PC like a laptop or a desktop. However, it has not given exactly what they want yet because of its different operating systems and programs, new touch–screen technology, and lack of applications limit their usage. Participants’ desire to continue their habits in the new technologies is an example of the influence of user expectations on perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use. In spite of being satisfied with tablet PC, participants do not prefer it as a first PC option. One reason for this preference can be that tablet PCs might have not fully reduced their needs for other PCs. From the HCI perspective, it can be said that the device is not suitable enough for the tasks. According to participants’ views, the task component of HCI affects their PC usage and preferences. So, the (in)ability of the device (e.g., tablet PC) to complete the tasks emerged by the users in a given context impacts user views on the device (e.g., perceived usefulness and perceived ease of use).
The results reveal that tablet PCs are generally compared with smartphones due to the similarities in their operating systems and functions. Participants do not want to carry two devices similar to each other. Half of the participants use their tablets only at home. While academicians indicate some differences (e.g., screen size, battery life) between tablet and smartphone, they think that tablet is more educational and reasonable. Looking at this from the HCI perspective, although tablets and smartphones are similar in terms of task components, they have different features in terms of the tool component. This result shows the interaction of TAM and HCI components on the usefulness and ease of use of a technological tool. In this study, academicians also evaluate the tablet PC in terms of human health. They believe that the smaller screen size of tablet PC and its long term usage may cause more fatigue. However, some participants also think that tablets provide ease of movement and quality images. Ergonomics research on tablet PCs is still in its infancy stage. Hence, users do not have much information about tablet PC ergonomics and related health issues. A few studies on the subject suggest that tablet PCs cause more curvature of the spine and thus more fatigue (Young et al., 2012). It is important to increase scientific research on ergonomics of tablet usage and informing potentials users about the possible health risks.
Participants want to use a tablet PC for many tasks in different areas. For this reason, they have some expectations and suggestions for producers. First of all, they expect tablets to reduce the need for other types of computers. The proliferation of applications for the tablet PC and the ease of office applications are fundamental expectations. They think that synchronization of the virtual keyboard is somewhat slow. They recommend standardizing the specification of additional keyboard among the producers and facilitating the use of related hardware such as SmartPen. Another expectation related to their profession is to improve the transcription technology for academic writing. They look forward to having tablets with a larger screen but lighter and thinner. Furthermore, some participants point out the necessity of increasing battery and memory capacity and solving file sharing problems. Considering the analysis of their expectations, the interaction of the TAM and HCI components once again appears here. The user builds a preliminary attitude against the tool through his/her positive or negative perceptions about it. This preliminary attitude offers an intention to the user. The user tests the tool’s functions within a context and this affects his/her attitudes, perceived usefulness, and perceived ease of use. As a result, the user expresses satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the tool according to these experiences.
In closing, based on the findings of this research, we offer some suggestions to the tablet PC users, producers, and academicians who study this tool. Users should access the information they need about the tablet PC through objective research and suspect subjective evaluations. They should prefer those tablets that comply with their needs. Tablet PCs are not produced to replace other PCs and thus they may not do some tasks which other PCs can. Therefore, the users should determine their expectations from tablets with this in mind. It is clear that the interest shown for the tablets in the last decade is going to continue and that the focus point of the PC world will still be tablet PCs. Besides, the choice of a smaller, performance–capable computer is quite natural. Technology manufacturers aim to increase and diversify their products and users’ portfolios by developing more useful products based on the evaluation of previous ones. Therefore, it is obvious that those who consider user experiences and expectations will most likely to be preferred among the consumers.
The Kavian Scientific Research Association (KSRA) is a non-profit research organization to provide research / educational services in December 2013. The members of the community had formed a virtual group on the Viber social network. The core of the Kavian Scientific Association was formed with these members as founders. These individuals, led by Professor Siavosh Kaviani, decided to launch a scientific / research association with an emphasis on education.
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FULL Paper PDF file:Investigating Academicians’ Use of Tablet PC from the Perspectives of Human-Computer Interaction and Technology Acceptance Model
Investigating Academicians’ Use of Tablet PC from the Perspectives of Human-Computer Interaction and Technology Acceptance Model
International Journal of Technology in Education and Science (IJTES)
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Professor Siavosh Kaviani was born in 1961 in Tehran. He had a professorship. He holds a Ph.D. in Software Engineering from the QL University of Software Development Methodology and an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Chelsea.