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Livescribe Echo Smartpen – Edtech Review

The Livescribe Echo Smartpen has tremendous potential for use in our schools. We were blown away after playing with one for a few weeks. We showed it to teachers and students and our findings are below, but needless to say – we were mightily impressed.

Livescribe smartpens digitally capture everything people hear and write. To play back important information, a user simply taps anywhere on handwritten notes in a Livescribe notebook, on a computer, or on their mobile device, and you can replay and re-live the moment. Connect software makes it possible to quickly send these handwritten notes and recorded audio from your notepad as an interactive PDF or “pencast” direct to someone’s email, Facebook page, to Evernote or Googledocs or to a mobile device such as iPad or iPhone. The recipient can then click on the handwritten notes to hear the audio for themselves.

Livescribe is filling a gap by bringing written and spoken information online and into the personal cloud. Livescribe Connect not only makes it simple to create and share handwritten notes and recorded audio as interactive pencasts, but also makes it possible for anyone to interact with the information as a Pencast PDF. The Pencast PDF can be accessed by anyone who has the free Adobe Reader® 10 or higher. To use Livescribe Connect, a smartpen user simply draws a line and writes the name of the desired destination, for instance “Evernote” or “Facebook”, then taps the pages or circles sections of a page to send. The next time the smartpen is docked to a computer, the notes and audio are automatically sent as a Pencast. Llivescribe Connect can also be used within Livescribe’s free desktop software – simply drag and drop pages of notes to Connector icons to quickly send or share them.

The specifics and details above led us to think about the possibilities of its use in the classroom. We immediately asked our network of teachers for feedback and in a few words, those that have it – love it. Check this example out from @gersharpe1 – a Maths and Chemistry teacher from Ireland who uses it for post 16 lessons. The level of ease in which they can be used is evident in the videos.

Yes: iPads and the like are brilliant for learning purposes – but what about note taking purposes? We find that for classroom use, meetings and demonstrations the Livescribe pen takes up little teacher energy and its fast: the key elements for using technology in schools. One student described the process as: ‘I sometimes use my iPod touch in my A-Level Geography lessons for notetakeing but for diagrams its useless. This is where the Livescribe pen wins hands down. It allows to capture everything and in great detail. I want one to keep!”

Geometry 1/12/09
brought to you by Livescribe

After 3 minutes discussions our teachers were full of ideas for how they could be used within their own classrooms from the perspective of a student: designs with explanations, written paragraphs explaining choices of words and sentence structure, geographical diagrams with explained annotations. These could then be shared and stored within school VLEs. They were excited at just the thinking behind this, but when they saw the end result they were blown away.

For us, the key to the Livescribe Echo Smartpen’s success is the high levels of engagement that happens as a result of the recordings and the ability to allow 24/7 access via the videos that are created. What’s more your video can go global by sharing via the Livescribe.com community. It helps when you need to create notes for a student who has missed a key lesson. How many times do we as teachers hand over information for the student to read but what really matters is teacher input to make it easier to understand? That’s what makes Livescribe Echo Smartpen a huge #win and we love it.

Have a look at thousands of pencasts here

At the time of writing the Livescribe 2GB version is £99.98 from Amazon

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2 Responses to Livescribe Echo Smartpen – Edtech Review

  1. For me, the real question is: why do so many people “give up” after their first couple pencasts?

    For example, the all time most viewed pencast, “Learn Chinese with Tang Poetry” by Helen. This was supposed to be the first in a series of 300. Despite receiving, a laundry list of positive commnents, Helen never created a second lesson.

    Indeed, the vast majority of pencasts appear to be without sequel. Very mysterious.

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