The classroom has suddenly grown up. A few years ago technology in the classroom was very much limited to a few computers that were wheeled in on a trolley when a teacher booked them in. Things have changed, and it is not unknown to enter any learning classroom these days and see a plethora of tablets and smartphones, all owned by the students, and all being used to learn with.
However, one of the newer pieces of technology that has really begun to take hold in learning environments is something inspired by tradition, the digital pen. This small device is now responsible for a whole new kind of learning, with students using one to take notes, share those notes, and manipulate sophisticated software and applications, and therefore creating truly interactive classrooms.
A digital pen is simply a device whereby a user can write on normal paper and then save the writing to a hard drive. Then the notes can be shared to another device or computer. Typically, the smart pen allows users to upload their notes to a computer via a USB or in some cases Bluetooth. Once this has been done the notes can be converted and then ported across to a word processor program such as Microsoft Word. Once these notes are in the word processor they can be shared and used to enhance learning.
Digital pens are therefore proving to be invaluable in interactive learning, especially for learners who don’t actually like using tablets and computers to type on. In fact, it is this particular use that is proving to be a pleasant surprise. With so much of what happens in schools having to be recorded digitally, reluctant computer users can still accomplish digital work through a digital pen.
Digital pens are also commonly used as mice, with users able to manipulate software and applications while connected to the computer. This aspect of digital pens has proven to be particularly effective for the classroom learning environment, which often calls for presentations or aspects of learning to be manipulated and delivered on screen to a group.
Notes taken in an interactive classroom with the smart pen and saved to the computer can be emailed quickly to other learners, or teachers. There is tremendous potential for interactive learning here when it comes to homework, with students able to pull their work together through using the pen and then email the work to their teachers quickly and easily.
The system is also very practical. When used in interactive classrooms students are able to take a surprisingly large amount of notes as part of their interactive learning. The majority of digital pens available on the market allow for storage of many pages of notes. It is not unheard of for students to be using a digital pen that can store 100 pages of notes, for example. Considering the ease of use (simply writing notes that are converted to digital format) this means that a student can take notes for a term or longer before they have to send it to a word processor.
Digital pens are versatile and are quickly becoming invaluable to many educators. In a world that is constantly changing, it is somewhat comforting to think that students can still ‘write’ in class.