Smart Pens and Smarter Tablets

Assistive Technologies (AT) have come a long way in recent years. Perhaps this is due to the rise of ‘accessibility’ settings on personal devices, laptops and other platforms alongside the explosion of audio books and text-to-speech everywhere. However getting the content to students is only one part of the puzzle. What about students who can’t remember that content, need an aid to do so, or who are just really, really bad at organizing? What good is content if the students can’t recall it or find it again- literally.

Enter some of my favourite AT: the smart pen. Long before everything was “smart,” these pens, like the one below from LiveScribe, record what you write in an easy to send, print, store, and archive digital file.


Modern LiveScribe and similar pens give students the ability to keep their notes stored in the cloud, just as they wrote them along with an audio recording of the lecture or presentation. This is great for students who often lose their notebooks for periods of time, or misplace them entirely. Of course, replacing the specialized paper notebooks can become costly if the student is especially forgetful, or prolific in their writing.

A more expensive, but much more powerful option is to provide students with a device like a Microsoft Surface or Surface Pro. These “slate” laptops feature a 12″ HD screen with a special bundled that lets students write on top of PDFs and other media sent by the teacher. The free, bundled OneNote software will also allow students to attach files to their digital notebook “pages” while recording the lecture as well.

The future is certainly bright for students who need a hand getting organized and recalling notes. I certainly wish I had a Surface during my math classes!

Author: Carl Dennis

MEd Candidate at UOIT. Game, EdTech and computer lover.

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