Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Digital Clipboards in the Classroom

I’m working with a school that’s just bought a small number of these digital clipboards for use in English lessons, primarily. I doubt this is a particularly new technology, but I hadn’t seen it employed by a school before so thought it worth exploring.

digimemo image: acecad.com.tw

The device allows students to write on normal paper during lessons (e.g. recording notes for revision, drafting a piece of writing) with a special pen (though it uses standard ink cartridges). Their notes are then uploaded to a computer as an image when the clipboard is next connected by USB cable.

Even better, the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software supplied with the device converts handwriting into text which can then be manipulated using a word processor or other similar tool (such as MS OneNote).

I’m sure the school will come up with many different applications for this technology. A few which occur to me are;

  • Sharing the outcomes of group work with all participants, so that everyone has a record of discussions/ plans, etc. This would work just as well if it was the teacher recording a class discussion or collaborative development of an idea.
  • Allowing learners to generate mind maps/ flow charts/ diagrams (something which a computer is often a barrier to) in a natural way, and still be able to use the results digitally.
  • Encouraging disengaged learners or those with weak computer/ writing skills to take notes, which can later be expanded on away from the pressure of a live lesson. The fact that you get a high quality, clean copy of your notes in Word will add value here, I’m sure, especially for those who are convinced their work is always poor.
  • Digital note taking in situations where you wouldn’t necessarily want to take a laptop/ tablet; observing a sport, on the bus, in the Resistant Materials room.

I’ll report back on how successful they are in a few months.

Dominic Norrish. Follow me on Twitter