Thursday, 19 April 2012
Today's post is dedicated to advancements (or lack thereof) in classroom technology. Well, technically, this is an advancement in technology; it's just that I see no real improvement towards student learning. The device I'll be talking about can be found in the following BBC article: http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-17754264
In a nutshell, the "smart whiteboard pen" is as its name implies--it's a presentation pen that is being advertised as an affordable alternative to smart boards. The pen uses military derived technology such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, and optical sensors to help implement its smart board function. The pen allows the user to electronically draw on multiple types of display surfaces--for example: projectors, monitors, etc.
While I'm all for nifty electronic gadgets, there comes a point where we should stop and ask ourselves if this type of thing is actually useful. Penveu, the company that is producing this device, states that the product will make classroom learning more engaging. I believe engagement is an integral part of learning, but I don't think this will be much of a game changer for the classroom. The pen will be selling for $500; although not incredibly expensive, I can definitely think of alternative purchases that could do more for education. One immediate example is another smart pen that has been developed by Livescribe. I won't go into full details, but the Livescribe pen digitally records your handwriting and any audio heard during that time. This gives you the capability of storing your written notes on a computer and accessing them later. An even more powerful feature (especially for lectures) is that the pen allows you to "tap" on any part of your notes, and the pen will replay any recorded audio for when that note was taken. This pen is $120 for the cheapest model.
Again, while Penveu is releasing a nifty product, I think there are better alternatives than spending $500 on a presentation pen. From personal experience, I know that $500 could buy a decent amount of electronic parts that could be used to teach students electronics on a high school level.