Accessibility & Disability | News

Universities Pilot Use of Wi-Fi Livescribe Smartpen

Several colleges and universities are participating in a pilot program sponsored by Livescribe to test the use of Sky, a new Wi-Fi smartpen introduced by the company in October. Included in the pilot are the University of California, Berkeley, North Carolina State University, and Tarrant County College's Southeast Campus. The results of the program will help determine how the pen will be marketed, how users will be trained, and what additional services may be offered. Sky will officially be launched in the education market in early 2013.

The idea of the "smartpen" is to capture the audio and written contents of a lecture for later review. Teachers can also record interactive lessons or homework assignments, called pencasts, and post them to a class blog or learning management system, where students can go over the material from a computer or mobile device before class, in a flipped classroom model.

The Wi-Fi smartpen digitizes whatever a user writes and hears and automatically uploads it to a personal Evernote account. From there, the user can search, play back, organize, and share notes. That digital content will be available in multiple media, including paper, tablet, smartphone, and computer.

The disability services departments at both UC Berkeley and North Carolina State will loan Sky Wi-Fi smartpens to students in need of note-taking accommodations to use in their classes. North Carolina will also assess the impact of the new pens on students in other courses.

Both universities have tested a previous generation of the smartpen. The Berkeley program said some students gained confidence through its use, because they reported being less concerned about missing important information.

At Tarrant County College in Arlington, TX, a math professor will use the pen to share interactive lessons and materials with students using Evernote.

"UC Berkeley prides itself on being at the forefront of delivering the best and most innovative services and accommodations to our students," said Paul Hippolitus, director of the Disabled Students' Program. "We look forward to the pilot program and evaluating the benefit and impact of Livescribe's wireless smartpen to provide our students with additional ways to access, interact, and share information they learn in class to not only improve understanding, but to also better prepare them for entering the workforce."

The pilot program is scheduled to be finished by spring 2013, at which time Livescribe will share highlights and results of the program.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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