Distance Education with the Livescribe Smartpen

USING EMBEDDED PDF PENCASTS FOR DISTANCE EDUCATION

I had a college professor contact me recently to show me his embedded pencast PDF (text embedded in the background).   It was so fantastic, I asked him if I could write about what he is doing with his smartpen in his distance education classes for English.

Here is a link to open the pencast PDF he sent me. He used it to give a student feedback (he asked the student for permission for me to post this):

http://core.ecu.edu/engl/hackettt/miller.pdf

Now that you are as impressed as I am, here is a little bit about the gentleman who created the pencast.

Timm Hackett is in the English department at East Carolina University.  Rather then me telling you about how he uses the Livescribe smartpen, he has given me permission to share his story with you (he obtained permission from his students to quote them as well).

Timm Hackett

The Livescribe pen has been a part of my English Distance Education courses at East Carolina University since October 2009. The pen has not only given me the ability to communicate with my students on a more personal level, but it has also allowed me to be more efficient in my teaching. What started out as a way to capture my own notes for writing turned into the most requested method of teaching from my DE students.
DE classes have always tried to emulate face-to-face classes; however, even the most advanced uses of technology fall short of their intended effect. Podcasts are wonderful for audible learners, but disregards students who may be visual learners. Videotaping classes requires a great amount of preparation, sufficient bandwidth and storage space on both the professor’s and student’s side, and cumbersome equipment. Even when faculty use such technologies, the outcome is less than adequate. This often leads to more work for the professor and continued frustration for the students. More often than not, a professor will fall back on what one graduate student described as a “document dump” into Blackboard or Moodle.
This is where the Livescribe can alleviate many of these issues. 
Larissa Putnam, a student in the ECU Wells Fargo Partnership East Program (http://www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/partner_east/), stated, “What Distance Education students often feel is lacking in their overall experience is a sense of community and connection; however, putting a voice, and handwriting to a name really personalizes the lecture format in a way that a typed document cannot.”
Even when the pencast is not a lecture, but comments on the student’s own writing, it succeeds in providing feedback to the student. Frank Campione, a junior studying for his BSBA in Information Technology struggled with one aspect of composition. Even after seeing comments in the Word document, Campione still was unclear on the concept being taught. However, after combining his document and a PDF pencast, he wrote “[The Pencast] has an added bonus of giving distance education students more personal input from their professor, something that is lacking in some distance education classes.” One of Campione’s classmates, Paula Daughtry, a student studying Special Education, went a step further in her praise for what the Livescribe pen provided her: “”I really liked how you were able to write and speak concerning my paper. Yes, this is perfect for DE students like myself! I felt that I had a face-to-face meeting.”
Using the technique of the embedded PDF pencast has increased the value of the Livescribe Pen. Now, a professor can print pages of a digital text and embed audio comments directly into the pages, make annotations and audio comments directly onto a student’s paper, and share these PDFs with an entire class. This allows the DE students to listen to or watch a pencast, and even print the document when they are finished.
Perhaps the best comment received was from Vickie Willis, another student from the ECU Wells Fargo Partnership East Program. She wrote, “I liked the Livescribe pen and pencasts so much that I went out and bought one and hope to incorporate its use into my own classroom one day. I believe it will be a great tool to help students struggling, especially with math, by viewing a pencast explaining mathematical computations.”
—————-
I am so inspired by Timm’s latest email to me:
“After finding your site and the instructions on using embedded PDFs, I have been asked to present on the Livescribe four times this year. Two have been to my University as a whole, one has been to my own department, and in two weeks, I will present to the Atlantic Coast Business, Marketing, and Information Technology Education Conference in Raleigh. “
What an amazing difference the Livescribe smartpen has made for Timm, and now he is making a huge difference by sharing his experiences as well.  If you would like to find out more about him, Timm’s website is:   http://core.ecu.edu/engl/hackettt/.
 

A little distracted!

I apologize to all who follow my blog;   I have been quite distracted the past couple of months, as our miniature dachshund couple had puppies over the Christmas break!

I will post a few photos here for you to see what I have been busy with :)

I promise to start posting again soon!

Abi with her newborn pups on Jan 3, 2012.   She had 5 girls and 1 boy – all are doing really well 4 1/2 weeks later!

2 weeks old and eyes are open.  learning to walk…

3 1/2 weeks old and learning to play

It has been a fantastic (and time consuming) journey with these 6 wonderful puppies!

 

My Student Hyperstudio Projects

Student Hyperstudio5 Projects

The final project I had my Math For Elementary Teachers do for the course was to create an interactive Hyperstudio Project.


The projects are too large to be viewed well inside my blog, so I have created a website to house them. The website is best viewed using Safari if possible, if not, just ignore the browser warning, as I have used a beta version of Hyperstudio to export them into HTML5 .

I have many of my student’s projects posted on a THIS WEBSITE.    Enjoy!

 

Learning to Write His Name!

My Autistic Great Nephew: Update #2:

I heard back from my niece last week about how her autistic son is doing with the Livescribe smartpen and his iPad.

If you have not seen the earlier part of the story, click here.

The story left off where my niece was going to her son’s school for the IEP meeting…

She told me about how much he loves the sound dots and that every time they get a new book he gets so excited to “dot” it!  He brings her everything he owns with writing on it so they can put a sound dot on it.
Then she shared the sad news with me that they did have her son’s IEP meeting, but it was very frustrating.  “They don’t want to use any technology. They also don’t think it is a good use of time to attempt to teach him the alphabet. So we’re just going to keep working on it ourselves”

Lucky for her son, she did not give up!  I got this update from her last week:

“Exciting News!
Last week (her son) started writing his name on the iPad!
This week I got a letter home from the school saying they are willing to try to incorporate using his iPad into his academics at school. My hope is the next step will be for the instructors to start using the (smart)pen so that they can give him lessons that can translate into home use.”

Pretty amazing stuff!!  I am so glad he has her to advocate for him.  What a great thing for him to be able to write his name!

The Livescribe smartpen and his iPad have made a huge difference in my great-nephew’s ability to learn the alphabet and start to learn to read.

Amazing!

 

 

 

The Future of Educational Games – Sifteo Cubes

The future is NOW!

I came across an article a few weeks back on some amazing new technology for games and educational apps called Sifteo Cubes.


*image taken from the Sifteo website

I could see potential without even touching them!   I ordered a set (they come with three cubes) and they came right away. Within the first day I knew I had to have all six cubes, so I ordered a second to get down to the business of seeing what the full set could really do.

Right now there are not a lot of apps for the cubes, but anyone can download the Sifteo SDK and create their own apps for the cubes.   I think I have found a couple game programmers who are willing to work towards creating some educational apps that I have in mind to reinforce fractions and algebra concepts.   These cubes will be really amazing for math!

I created a short video of some of my favorite apps so you can see  how the cubes work.

If you decide to get a set, please write me and let me know how you plan on using them.

 

GlogsterEDU Projects for Students

CREATIVE ONLINE PROJECTS

Next week my students in my Math For Elementary Teachers class will be creating a Glog:  an interactive, online poster.   GlogsterEDU will allow them to create their Glog for free and publish it to their Google Website for the class.

I just finished creating a new Glog to show a few uses of the Livescribe smartpen in the classroom.  I plan on using this as an example when I teach them how to use GlogsterEDU.

Link to the Glog if you cannot see it above.

I will post some of their work when completed!

 

Creating a Text Embedded Interactive Worksheet with a Livescribe Smartpen

EMBEDDING TEXT BEHIND A LIVESCRIBE PENCAST PDF

Recently I learned how to embed text behind a Livescribe pencast and it has changed everything!

I created a short interactive worksheet to show what can be created with this process.   The following is a screenshot of the text embedded pencast because I cannot embed a PDF file (yet) into a website.   A link to the actual pencast PDF is below the screenshot.

Pencast PDF with text in the background
(you must have Adobe Reader 10.0 or higher to view this interactive PDF)

If that does not work, I put a link on my website for you to click on OUTSIDE of WordPress
(I have some issues with opening PDFs inside WordPress – if anyone can help me to embed
a PDF in WordPress or a website I would really appreciate it!)

As listed in the pencast, the steps to embed the text in the pencast PDF are as follows:

1.  Print off the text file onto Livescribe dot paper (I used college-ruled dot paper in my printer)

2.  Record a pencast on top of dot paper that has the text printed on it (the text shows you where to write!)

(sorry about the poor photo quality)

3.  Connect your smartpen and upload your pencast as a PDF (use the “Computer” connector)

As you can see in this screen shot, the pencast looks pretty strange without the text behind it!

4.  Save the original text document as a .jpg (image file) – to do this you must first save it as a PDF and then you can use Adobe Acrobat Pro or the free online utility Zamzar (www.zamzar.com) to save your PDF as a .jpg file

5.  Open the pencast PDF in Adobe Acrobat Pro or PDF Pro (http://epapyrus.com/en/)  so that you can add a watermark to the PDF file

6.  Add your .jpg text file as a watermark to your pencast PDF and re-save the PDF

7.  The new pencast PDF can be viewed by anyone with Adobe Reader 10.0 or higher

 

Please add comments on this blog if you know of other free ways to save a text document as an image file and also if you know of other (especially FREE) programs that allow the user to edit a PDF.

Please send me the projects you make – I would love to see them!

 

 

Update1 on “Help For My Autistic Great Nephew”

Help For My Autistic Great Nephew – update 1

A couple months ago I purchased a Livescribe smartpen (click for links within my blog) for my niece to use with her autistic son (I think that makes him my great-nephew?)    I showed her how to use it during a family reunion in the Outer Banks over the summer. (Here is a link to the previous article)

Ethan’s mom sent me the following “first impression” of using the Livescribe smartpen with her son, and gave me permission to post it.  Her autistic son Ethan is 9 years old:

Every child learns differently. Part of Ethan’s struggle has been that he does not learn by the same standardized methods that most children are able to use for learning.  He is great with technology, likes repetitiveness and although he does enjoy social interaction he does not like to “perform” when someone is trying to teach him something.  The smart pen allows us to combine and functionally utilize these traits.

Ethan does well with his iPad but unlike the pre-programmed educational apps, with the smart pen we can create our own learning material specific to his needs. For instance if he is struggling with the letter “A” he can sit down with his iPad on his own (in his own space) and replay (over and over) the note session that shows how to write “A” as well as hearing the sound.  It also allows me to focus on topics of interest for him. He loves baseball so we can practice spelling and writing sentences all tailored around “Ethan playing baseball.”

The sound stickers are also really cool.  We are able to record each page of a book on them so that Ethan is then able to “read” books to himself.  He enjoys reading books but at his age most kids are able to read to themselves. This allows Ethan to read/listen to his books independently when I am not available.  It also is great in that he is able to repeatedly hear the words in connection with seeing them over and over. ..because let’s face it, as a parent you can only read the same book over and over in one day before you lose your mind.

Ethan’s mom is using the Livescribe smarpen (click to go to the main Livescribe website) to write out the lessons she wants her son to learn, then uploading them to his iPad for him to interact with by hearing and watching the lesson.    She is using the sound (dot) stickers to record herself reading each page of his favorite books.  She then places a sticker on each page for  him to “read” the book by himself.  By tapping the sticker with his smartpen, he can hear the words on the page being read to him by his mother! 

I will continue keeping updates in this blog on how his first IEP meeting goes this year at school, and how his learning progresses with the use of the Livescribe smartpen.

Livescribe now has a website for solutions for teaching students with learning disabilities:
http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/solutions/learningdisabilities/

 

Getting Organized

ADDING MY VIDEOS TO THIS BLOG

I have heard from several people that they would like to see some of the educational videos I have created.  I realize there was a pull down menu at the top of my blog for it, but I never actually organized the content I have created in the past.

In the past 6 months I have had to wipe both my Mac and my Windows machine (long stories), so some of my videos are now “lost’, but luckily YouTube still has a small collection.

I finally got organized today and separated my videos into categories.  If you look along the top of my blog, you will see a category called “Animations/Videos” :



Most of my videos fall in to four categories of  “How-To” videos, “Educational Teaching Videos”, “Flash Animated Tutorials”, and “Livescribe pencasts”.  I will be adding some Animationish videos after this Fall when I have my students creating some.

I created the “How-To” videos to teach others how to use software or hardware.  Here are the categories I have in that section:

I plan on adding more videos to this section in the near future, so some of the categories do not have any links yet.

The next main category I have been creating videos for is in “Educational Teaching Videos”.  These are short videos I have created for my students to introduce a topic we are studying in the class.

As you can see when you look through the Educational Teaching videos, I was trying out several types of hardware/software to see what worked best.   I used the eInstruction Workspace software for a “whiteboard” in some videos, and recorded and edited with Camtasia studio.  In other videos I used a Lumens HD Ladibug document camera.  I found the document camera to be better for me when I am actually needing to record working with actual objects like base ten blocks and fraction circles.   I will hopefully be making more videos using these this semester. I will try to keep up with posting them here so I don’t lose them again!!

Most of the tutorials/lessons I have created for my students in the past year are Livescribe pencasts, but I find when I need the lesson to be more visual, a video is better.    My livescribe pencasts are organized by topic on THIS PAGE.  I have quite a few pencasts collected there.   When I had to wipe my computers, I lost all the original pencasts, so for now I cannot change any of those pencasts into PDF’s to download.

Lastly, about six years ago I started created Flash animated tutorials to help my students in my Math For Elementary Teachers classes better visualize the math they will be teaching. I strongly believe visualization is key to understanding!

The Flash animated tutorials are housed on a separate area (outside of my blog).   They are organized by arithmetic topic:

For example, clicking on the “1/3″ would take you to the fraction tutorials, and the “2” will take you to the multidigit whole number operations.  This type of tutorial takes me a lot longer to create, so I do not have many in some areas (like decimals).   Instead, I am starting to create more interactive tutorials using Hyperstudio.  To see a few of those interactive tutorials, CLICK HERE.

These are still a work in progress, but I promise to continue adding here so check back!

 

 

New Livescribe Connectors For OneNote and Google Sites!

*Image taken from the Livescribe Facebook Page.

I downloaded the latest version of Livescribe desktop to try out the NEW connectors.   Livescribe just added Microsoft OneNote and Google Sites to their list of connectors!   Download the lastest desktop at:  http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/starthere 

connect
brought to you by Livescribe

Here is a screenshot of a Google website I created.  You can use the launch-line feature and write the words “Google Site” (the pen recognizes the words you want pretty quickly – or you can make a short cut like “sites” for it)

 

Every time you sync a new pencast to Google Sites, it creates a new webpage on your site and embeds the playable pencast on the page.  You can rename and edit the page any way you would like after the pencast is uploaded.    What a great way to share a test key or answer student questions so all students have access to it!

The other new Connector is for Microsoft OneNote.   I have read a lot of feedback from folks REALLY wanting this connector.   Since I use Evernote (a LOT), I haven’t really played with OneNote, but this gave me the perfect excuse to crack it open and start playing!

After syncing your pen using the OneNote Connector, when you open up Microsoft OneNote you see two things:

1)  A rough screen shot of your pencast, and

2)   An embedded Pencast PDF file that holds the entire pencast (includes both synced audio and animation)

If you double click on the PDF file in the upper right, it opens Adobe (10 or higher) and shows you the actual animated pencast.   This pencast is still in your OneNote notebook, but can also be shared with others.

The PDF pencast comes with a player that allows you to play, stop and scrub through the pencasts as you want.

You do not have to use launch-lines to use the connectors – they also show up in a menu on the left side of your Livescribe desktop:

 

All you need to do is sync your pen and then drag any “page” from your notebook onto one of the connectors – and you are done!

I already use the other connectors all the time, now I have even more choices to make my life easier.

I am looking forward to being able to create a Google Website that houses all the pencasts I upload for my students, so I can just post the link to the website for my students, rather than having to embed each new pencast I make manually.    This update for Connect is extremely helpful for me and will save me a LOT of time this semester!!

Loving all the new updates from Livescribe as they listen in on what their users really need “now”.  I can’t wait to see what is next!

 

 

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