Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Livescribe Pen Introduction: Long Overdue

Here at SOU, we've been using the Livescribe pens extensively for the past couple of years. It's astonishing to see the difference they can make for students. You can check out details on our program, or even see a local news article, if you're so inclined. This blog post will explain a few of the basics of using the pen for taking lecture notes, so continue reading!

Getting Stocked Up

In taking any notes, you need the basics - a writing utensil and some paper, right? With the Livescribe pen, this is also true. However, you need the specific Livescribe pen and the Livescribe paper. This is a step I've seen more than one student miss! The paper provides all of the pen's menu controls, but more importantly, the background of the paper provides the pen with information about what's being written. It's like GPS for paper; without it, the pen is just a recorder like any other. Livescribe controls the price on the paper, so no matter which outlet you purchase it from (including our own Bookstore), you're going to find approximately the same prices.
Also important to remember is that the pen must be charged. It's an electronic device, so it needs power. Reports from students and my own experience have shown that a full charge will give you anywhere from 4-7 hours of recording time, depending on how vigilantly you remember to turn it off. For most students, this handles a single day's classes without too much difficulty. Charge it by attaching the USB cord (for the Echo) or cradle (for the Pulse) to the pen and your computer. Also remember that when it comes off the cord/cradle it is on. Turn it off if you're not going to use it right away!

Taking Notes

Get comfortable, turn on the pen, and tap on the Record icon on the paper. Start taking notes! I often advise students to think of their notes as a table of contents to the class. You don't have to grab every piece of information - just enough that you can find your way back using the notes you've created as markers!
 You can use any notetaking system that works for you. Cornell notes can be a particularly helpful system with the pen, as you can easily pull up the audio from your notes to help you synthesize keywords and create summaries. Even better, if you add notes to your existing notes while the audio is playing, the new notes will synchronize in!

Students with serious notetaking difficulties have used any of the following successfully, alone or in combination:
  • The title from each Powerpoint slide (or even slide 1, slide 2, slide 3...)
  • Equations from a math or science class
  • Specific vocabulary (and then use the audio to hear the definition, examples, etc.)
  • Every 5 or 10 minutes, make a brief note of the topic the instructor is discussing
  • Use a specific symbol for reminders the instructor gives, such as quiz dates or due dates. Put this near the top of the page so it's easy to find

Reviewing Your Notes

All of the brilliant notetaking systems in the world will do you no good if you don't review your notes. The pen makes this easy. Turn on the pen, then tap on the words-- the pen will bring up whatever was being said at that time. See? Easy!

Want More?

Do check out the Livescribe site for more information. There are quite a few YouTube videos out there as well that demonstrate various aspects of the pen. Give them a try! If there are specific topics you'd like to see addressed in a future blog post, please shout them out in the comments.

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