Saturday, November 20, 2010

Staff Pick: Pulse Smartpen

Educational Uses for the Pulse Smartpen by Livescribe

The Pul
se Smartpen by Livescribe is a pen with a built-in microphone that has the ability to record audio while you are writing. What separates the Smartpen from a standard digital recorder is that it syncs the recording with the written notes. The pen's built in camera records what you are writing while at the same time the digital recorder is capturing the audio. The user can easily locate and playback a desired part of the recording by tapping on the corresponding section of the notes with the pen.

The Pulse Smartpen requires the use of special paper. The paper can be purchased as spiral bound notebooks or printed off using a template from the Livescribe website. Directions for printing for both Mac and PC
can be found at

The newest version of the pen, called the Echo, comes in a 4G and 8G version, ranging in price from $169-200. The original version of the pen, the Pulse Smartpen, is available (while supplies last) for about $129. Also new to Livescribe is a Smartpen app store where free and for fee apps are available. Current apps include a Spanish language dictionary, card games, paper piano, and a spelling app. You can find more inform
ation on apps at

Here is a short list of ways both teachers and students can use the pen to enhance learning.

The pen can be used by students with dysgraphia, auditory processing, and memory or attention deficits when taking notes in class. The recording can capture information the student is unable to write down while taking notes. The student can review the recording later and add the missing information to his or her notes.Teachers can pre-record text to be read for assignments and tests. The students can playback the recording as many times as needed.

Teachers or students can record to-do lists, due dates, and instructions for assignments.
Teachers can make flashcards and label objects for students to learn new vocabulary. This can be especially helpful for teaching foreign languages or for speech and language practice.

Teachers can make “pencasts” with instructions for an assignment or problem, such as step-by-step instructions for solving a math problem, and post it online for students to access from home. The audio recording will play in-sync with the written steps of the problem.

For visually impaired students, teachers can record questions for a test or assignment and then apply tactile bumps for the student to locate and activate the audio. The teacher can also record audio description of graphs and pictures that the student is unable to see.

Paper communication boards can be made by printing communication boards on the special paper and adding a voice recording to each symbol or text word with the Smartpen.

There are endless possibilities for the Smartpen. To learn more about how the Smartpen can benefit students, visit the K-12 Education and Pencasts sections of the Livescribe website:

The Pulse Smartpen is now available for demonstration at the S
imon Technology Center Library. Please stop in during STC Library hours: Tuesdays noon to 6 p.m. or Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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