So far, on this blog, I have written about tools I am familiar about, that I know very well or just a little. For this blog, I have decided to explore a tool I barely know anything about : the Smart Pen. This is a great technological tool to use in a classroom, that I have heard for the first time about only a few weeks ago during a conference about ESL teaching. The brief explanation that was given about it made me want to know more, so today I present to you the Smart Pen.
“What starts on paper, doesn’t have to stay there” (http://www.livescribe.com/en-ca/smartpen/) is the first thing you read when you go on the official website, and I believe it is a great description for it. Indeed, it is no ordinary pen.
The Smart Pen costs approximately 120$ for 2GB of storage, and can go up to 200$ if you want all the gadgets it can include. The Smart Pen comes with not only the pen itself, but also with a notebook with a special kind of paper, or “dot paper”, that records the things that you write for you to upload it on your computer and save it forever. Not only does it record your writing, it also synchronizes with the audio around you.
This can sound confusing. The Smart Pen looks very complicated when you first look at it, but it is actually quite simple. Indeed, all you need is your pen, your paper, and something important to keep record of. A class, for example. For students, the Smart Pen allows them to take extensive notes during the class on paper and to later save it very easily on their computer so they will make sure not to use it. They can also use the record option of the Smart Pen to record small parts of their class so they can go back at it later if they need to. What is great about the audio recording is that it is synchronized with your handwriting – tapping on a written word will start the recording from the moment the word was written.
This makes the whole process of note-taking far less stressful for students and teachers (while in a meeting, for example). You also save the annoying and tiring task of always transcribing your handwritten notes to your computer (http://assistivetechnology.about.com/od/ATCAT3/f/What-Is-A-Smart-Pen.htm). Another simple but great thing about the Smart Pen is its size. It is very small, making it easily transportable from one place to another, and also far from heavy.
The Smart Pen is an amazing tool to not lose yourself in insane amounts of paper or computer files. As a teacher, you have a great deal of possibilities for its use. For example, when evaluating team conversations or debates, you can easily record parts of it while taking notes. That way, if you are not sure about what a certain student said, you can always go back to your recording to find out. Furthermore, since you have the file saved forever on your computer, you can use it for other classes, or to help other students.
You can also use the Smart Pen to help create your lessons (https://smartpen-connection.wikispaces.com/Using+Smartpens+in+the+Classroom). Why not, while writing a worksheet or explaining a concept, record yourself explaining it and then send it your students ? That way, they can always go back to the previous lessons if they need to because the audio file will always be available. You could also create a project where the students would have to create a book and add their voices to it (http://www.engaging-technologies.com/smartpen-foreign-language.html#axzz2wHMPVIfJ).
You could also use the Smart Pen to record lessons for students who are absent so they will get the same content as the other students, or create things such as audio pop quizzes (http://www.msubillings.edu/summerinstitute/presentations/Educational_Uses_for_the_Livescribe_Pulse_Smartpen.pdf).
The opportunity is there. Why not try it ?