Papershow: another technology-enhanced pen
‘Papershow’ might sound like something out of A Clockwork Orange but it is in fact another clever pen superficially similar to the Livescribe Smartpen described in Jenny’s post earlier today. It actually serves a different purpose, insofar as it is intended for live use in the classroom, transmitting wirelessly whatever it writes or draws (on special paper) to the presenter PC. So the lecturer can use it as he or she moves around the room, or it can be handed to a student / group to use.
Since we acquired our demonstration sets around 6 months ago, a number of colleagues have used it in anger. Paul Hernandez-Martinez is a Lecturer in the Mathematics Education Centre and has been using it this semester in a service teaching maths module. Here he describes his experience and that of his students.
This was the first time I used the pen in my lectures and I have to say that I enjoyed it for the following two reasons:
1) Its use meant that I could face my students while solving exercises, and I could see their expressions of understanding or confusion, and therefore I could either move on or slow down and explain an exercise in more basic steps.
2) In my lectures I alternate several times between the computer (PowerPoint to present concepts) and the whiteboard (to solve exercises), therefore the use of the pen meant that I didn’t have to pull up and down the screen, which in the case of one of my classrooms is a very slow and time consuming process.
However, by week 3 or 4, the pen began to develop some glitches: some letters were not correctly displayed, something that in mathematics is crucial (you don’t want to mistake an x for a y, for example). In spite of this, I still felt the pen was a good addition to my lectures. By week 6 or 7 I received some feedback from the department […] saying that a couple of students did not like the pen. Further to this, I sought direct feedback from my students in form of a questionnaire, and on the question of the electronic pen I received the following results:
From 17 answers that I got back (from a group of 35 registered students), 5 students were negative about the use of the pen, 4 students considered it positive and 8 were unsure about its use. […]
Further to this, on week 8 the pen stopped working at all during a lecture and I had to reset the laptop, wasting valuable time. I don’t know if these glitches and malfunctions are due to the pen itself (Bluetooth), the software or my laptop […], but by week 9 I stopped using it and went back to the whiteboard.
I am willing to try it again next year, using a better more powerful laptop, because I consider the benefits greater than the shortcomings.