Friday, September 9th, 2011
By Amy Kronenberger
Technology assists students' learning
  Equipped with a computerized pen and special paper, students with and without disabilities at Wright State University-Lake Campus are getting assistance in the classroom.
The Livescribe Echo technology includes a pen with a small camera at the tip that records written notes taken on specially-lined paper as it simultaneously records sound.
When studying, the student can replay the instructor's voice at a specific point of the lecture by tapping the paper with the pen at a particular section of the notes. Information can also be uploaded to a computer and translated into typed form.
Sheila Goins, a senior in business management at the Lake Campus, said she's used a smartpen for the last year. She is a nontraditional student who returned to college after 20 years.
"I think it's the best tool I've found in my educational career," she said. "When you've been out of school for 20 years, it's difficult to take notes. Now, I don't have to worry about missing something the teacher said."
The pen also has downloadable applications, including language translation, guitar and piano apps and games.
"It's a very cool piece of technology that demonstrates a great ability to help students," said John Wolfe, director of Technology Academic/Instructional Programs and Services (TAPS) at Lake Campus.
"I think it's a great way for students to improve their classroom experience and learn more effectively."
Wolfe learned of the smartpen through the Ohio Board of Regents and applied for grants through them and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission (ORSC). He received about $500,000 in grants to purchase the devices.
Wolfe was able to purchase smartpens for half of Lake Campus' 72 students with disabilities. The remaining students with disabilities can borrow a smartpen during their time at Lake Campus.
To be eligible to borrow a smartpen, a student must have a documented disability and must be registered through Wolfe's TAPS office, he said.
Dennis Glass, a junior in organizational leadership, said the smartpen has helped him immensely.
"I don't write very fast, and when you're trying to listen and take notes at the same time, it doesn't always work," he said.
Glass' favorite feature of the pen is following the text while listening after class.
"It allows you to follow along and understand what you were thinking during certain parts of the lecture," he said. "It allows you to fill in the blanks of anything you missed."
Wolfe said the Livescribe Echo smartpen is not yet available for purchase at the Lake Campus bookstore, but it can be ordered through the Dayton campus and shipped. It also can be purchased online.
"These are innovative software tools, especially for students with writing or hearing disabilities," he said. "I really encourage disabled students to borrow the smartpens for use in class."
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