Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gimmick or Godsend?

From The Wired Campus, February 5, 2008:

“The smart pen that Wired Campus flagged back in May was unveiled last week at a technology conference in Palm Springs, Calif. The company behind it, LiveScribe, has been aggressively marketing the device to college students with the slogan ‘Never miss a word.’”

I took the link and watched the demo video. It looks impressive, it looks like fun. It’s basically a combination recording machine and camera. Students can take lecture notes while a minirecorder, embedded in the pen, records whatever is being said. Later, the user can touch the pen to a specific spot on the notes page and listen to a recording of the instructor speaking those words. A tiny camera links what is being written to what is being recorded.

The comments following the article are definitely worth a read – how well does it work, what are the ethical implications, and, my favorite, “Reading course materials and paying attention in class are the right solutions, unless the problem is to show how rich your parents are.”

On the other hand, as an educator who worked in special education for many years, I can see that it might be a useful tool for students with learning disabilities who need additional resources to process and review information.

Take the link, watch the video, and see whether the smart pen is for you! It will apparently be available just in time for this year’s fall semester.

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