In my first year of teaching, I had my class market and sell a fictitious product called the Echo Pen as part of Junior Achievement’s Applied Economics. The Echo Pen would recall everything it wrote for it’s user making it a handy little gadget. It did not take long before the Echo Pen became a reality. There have been various pens that recorded what a person wrote but they did not do too well commercially. When I first saw the Pulse by Livescribe at my local Target I thought it would not last long either. That has been a couple of years ago. My interest grew when Best Buy and Staples started carrying the pen. When two administrators at my school purchased the Pluse and raved about them, the pen had my attention. Attention yes, purchase no because I still thought the Pulse was a solution looking for a problem.
The problem came after a couple of meetings which stressed the need for observations to be as low key as possible. In other words, no laptops or netbooks should be taken to a classroom since they can be seen as threatening. Just write a quick note, give it to the teacher and be on your way. Good but I still like to document my visits. The Pulse records what you write which similar pens also did. The difference the Pulse makes is it can record audio the replays it at the point you write a note by tapping on the note. A special dotted paper, optical camera, and microphone makes this magic happen. I plucked down some hard-earned cash and got my own Pulse. Does it work as advertised? Yes!
I used my Pulse in several classroom observations over the last couple of days. Usually, I don’t record audio during these visits because I am documenting technology use and giving recommendations. At the end of the day I take sync my pen with my computer and transfer my notes to the Livescribe Desktop. Then I copy and paste these notes into the technology integration portfolios I have created for each teacher. If I wished, notes can be uploaded to a website then e-mailed or shared on social networking sites, blogs, or websites. With handwriting recognition software it can convert handwritten notes to editable text. Good luck with my chicken scratch. Today I used the full recording capabilities as I recorded a friend of mine who spoke to a Journalism class. It has really helped me because I don’t have to carry around my laptop and it’s distractions.
Can the Pulse help students? Yes. I could have used this in many lectures when the teacher would speak at a rapid pace. Tape recorders never really worked for me because I really did not want to hear the lecture all over again. While studying, tapping my notes at the point where I have a question and hear that part of the lecture can really help. The Livescribe website has a K-12 section which gives other examples on how the Pulse can help students, teachers, administrators, and parents. As I plan on exploring other uses for the Pulse smartpen Grandpa Echo Pen must be smiling.
Here is a quick demo of what the Pulse smart pen can do. Please forgive my chicken scratch handwriting. You can also click here if you cannot hear the audio.