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A Pediatric Perspective

Smart Pens for Note Taking Challenges

Published January 29, 2013 9:44 PM by Cecilia Cruse
So we have smart phones and tablets, and now lately I have seen a growing interest in the use of smart pens. These pens such as the SkyTM wifi pen from LiveScribe, actually record audio as the user is taking notes on the page. The user can then go back later, touch the pen to any part of the page and hear the audio recording playback of what was being said at that particular time the user was making those notes.  The notes and audio are saved in a digital format that can be accessed through a wireless storage system.   The ergonomics and probable weight of these types of pens also look like they may help support those students who would benefit from extra proprioceptive feedback.   

I have yet to try a demo ( I am heading to an AT conference later this week) but the concept looks promising to me for students with handwriting/note taking issues and it appears that smart pens are already being used in some schools as a Reasonable Accommodation (RA).  Some past/present RA's for note taking include:

  • Preferential seating
  • A teacher generated pre- prepared guide or outline of the lecture notes
  • A student peer that takes notes for the struggling student
  • Color coding information on the board to make it easier for the student to visually track and copy

Seems like a smart pen may be another addition to the repertoire of RA's for students with note taking challenges.  Some of the issues to consider include the teacher agreeing to be audiotaped, and how much access should a student have to the device (i.e. during testing for example). Cost may be another factor.   Are you and/or your school's AT teams considering or already using smart pens as a Reasonable Accommodation? 

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