This is one of those bits of kit I’ve seen around in a few places recently, MacWorld 09 awards, I saw that Howard Rheingold bookmarked it on delicious, but it wasn’t until I saw Michael Wesch tweet about his use of it that the penny dropped.
Livescribe Smartpen is a pen that you can use to take notes which also records what you are listening to. It has a camera under the nib and is triggered to record by using special note paper (you can print your own for free or buy the expensive notebooks from livescribe!). The cool part comes when you connect the pen to a computer and upload the recoding. It produces a flash movie of your handwritten scribble which is clickable. Click on a section of the notes and you get to listen to the part of the recording you made whilst you were taking those notes. What’s more you can share these notes online (as Micheal Wesch did), in a livescribe community, or presumably anywhere you can embed flash movies.
One of the main problems of recording lectures has been that an hour’s worth of talking is a lot to wade through if you can’t understand what you wrote on page 3 of your notes. This provides a quick way to skip to the exact part of the recording you need, listen again and make some sense of what you heard. The notes are searchable too. For non-native english speakers, or dyslexics, this could also help them to understand their own notes after the lecture.
Sharing your notes online is a really interesting area, and I wonder how many of the students who have already shared their work have thought about whether they have or need their lecturer’s permission to publish their lectures online?
I think using one of these pens would make me think more carefully about how I took notes, perhaps drawing more diagrams and making short bullet points and notes to myself to listen again. I like the idea that you get double benefit from taking notes this – first, the act of writing notes helps me to remember and listen actively to what is being said, and second, I get an electronic copy of my notes as back-up that I can move around digitally without having to type them up later.
I wonder how many students or teaching staff will weigh up the cost of a netbook (£200) against the cost of a livescribe pen (£129)? Carrying a 37 g pen is going to be easy on the pocket in other ways too.