What Do You Do With a Digital Pen?

What Do You Do With a Digital Pen?

Judith K. Carlson (Rockhurst University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-4422-9.ch027
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This chapter describes an assistive technology device called a digital pen. Digital pens allow notes written to be uploaded to a computer and translated into word processing documents. The new LiveScribe Echo™ provides this feature and also digitally records an audio track to accompany the notes. This technology can be used by students with disabilities for note taking, writing, reading, mathematics, and virtually any content area. Using the pen for augmentative communication, as well as in-class assessment is discussed. Teachers can use a recording digital pen to create a “pencast” of a lecture. The pencast could then be available for repeated viewings by students who require repetition for learning or those not available when the content was covered. The chapter concludes that the recording digital pen’s applications and usage will expand as knowledge of the device increases.
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Using Digital Pens For Students With Disabilities

Disabilities will not magically go away with the use of any technological device. Hard work on the part of the student and imaginative application of technology on the part of the teacher will still be required to help students compensate for disabilities. However, digital pen technology can be used in many ways to assist the learning process.


Note-taking requires the student to simultaneously listen, remember and write down information. This is a challenge for most students and particularly for students with an attention deficit. Although computers and PDAs have been used to facilitate note-taking, research has shown that note-taking actually takes longer on these devices than with paper and pencil, requires familiarity with the equipment and does not lend itself to drawings or diagrams (Davis et al., 1999; Van Schaack, 2009; Ward & Tatsukawa, 2003). For students with learning disabilities, a digital pen would allow them to use their cognitive abilities to focus on the material being presented rather than on the multi-tasks of note-taking. The pen would allow him or her to take big idea notes and record the audio simultaneously. The lecture could be played back when reviewing the notes to fill-in gaps, possibly to restructure notes and to reinforce ideas. Kiewra (1989) found that lower-achieving students who could rehearse a lecture were able to bring their notes up to the level of the highest achieving students. Although video and audio tapes could provide this feature, they are not linked to the note-taking page as the recording would be with a digital pen. Research has also noted that multiple hearings of lecture material creates a higher level of recall and synthesis. For days when a student is absent, the pencast would become another way of making sure the student has the material available in the same way that the other students received it. This is particularly beneficial for students with higher absenteeism due to physical and other health impairments.

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