The Livescribe Echo Smart Pen – An FAQ
By Jim Sandstrum, MA CCC-SLP, Assistive Technology Partners, University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus
We have all experienced the challenge of writing frantically to keep up with a meeting, class or a very talkative co-worker. In most cases we tend to miss something that was important or have difficulty later on deciphering our own notes. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go back and hear it all again or better yet just the parts which are unclear. Well it turns out you can with two nifty little pens called the “Echo” and its older sibling the “Pulse.” Both pens are made by a company called Livescribe.
I’ve put together an FAQ that should answer most of your burning questions about these pens. However, I do want to share a few general thoughts on how they can be used to support you or your child in the classroom. First, this technology is probably most helpful to children in late middle school, high school and beyond because note taking is increasingly important in these learning environments.
That’s not to say however that the pen can’t be used successfully throughout elementary school. There are a lot of educational uses for this pen with young children (I list several below) which are most effective when the pen is used as a teaching tool rather than as a note taking tool. I’ll give one example here and then let you get to the good stuff below.
Ever wondered how to do that newfangled long division all the kids are learning today (the Partial Quotients method according to my daughter)? I do and staring at examples like the one to the left aren’t much help to me.
What is the Livescribe Echo?
- A new pen with a built-in digital recorder that can record lectures, conversation, meetings, and interviews while you take hand written notes.
- The pen lets you tap your notes to playback the recording
- You can share your notes with friends, post them to the internet or load them on your computer, iPad or iPhone.
How does it work?
- The pen uses a built-in scanner and special “dot” paper to capture your handwriting and to sync the recorded audio to your notes.
- The “dot” paper notebooks look almost identical to your standard spiral bound note book with the exception that they have audio playback controls on them:
- The pen can be connected to a computer (Mac or PC) which lets you transfer your notes and recorded audio onto the computer screen.
- Once the notes are on the computer you can email them to a friend, print them out, upload them to the Livescribe website, or save them as a “pencast” and send them to a friend. The pencast’s can also be embedded in your personal web page.
|Played back on the Internet||Played back on an iPhone|
How can the pen be used in classrooms?
- First and foremost to improve note taking. The audio recording captures everything you don’t while taking notes. So if you do not get something written down, you can simply listen to the audio to get information. This lets you concentrate on what the teacher is saying rather than frantically writing everything they say.
- The pen can also be used creatively:
- The pen and a document camera can be used to replace overhead projectors with the benefit being the notes can be sent home with the students (including audio).
- As a an instructional aid for homework (the teacher can record instructions on a math worksheet)
- As a learning tool (the student can complete a math problem while speaking their thought process aloud. The teacher can then see their result and hear the process they went through to solve the problem). This can be done in reverse as well where the teacher or tutor completes the problem while explaining out loud what they are doing).
- To create a talking test.
- To adapt books for struggling readers
- To create multimedia presentations (quickly and easily)
- To create talking word walls
- To create articulation worksheets (for the SLP’s in the audience)
- To use in music instruction (for example record a music score in various time scales and have the student identify them)
- To create auditory study guides
- To create an academic record of reading fluency
- To share information with parents
- To create oral book reports
- To create auditory flash cards
- As a talking scientific calculator
- Online math tutorials (pencasts embedded on a tutor’s web page)
- And much more…..
To see some of these examples in action visit the Livescribe K-12 YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/nevermissaword#p/c/5DB2A54524D8848A
How much does it cost and where can I get one?
- The Echo comes in 4Gb and 8Gb versions which cost $169 and $199 respectively.
- A four pack of single subject notebooks costs $19.95 although there are several other options on the Livescribe store.
- The pen can be purchased online or at several retailers including:
- Best Buy
- The Apple Store
Can the pen do anything else?
- Yes it can run mini applications such as:
- A spelling quiz app
- US Presidents
- A scientific calculator
- US States and Facts
- Word games
- And many more…..
- The Echo is an updated version of the Pulse pen with more storage and a better ergonomic design.
- The Pulse pen costs about $40 less than the Echo.
What is the difference between the Pulse pen and the Echo
- Price and features seperate these two pens
- The Echo is the newer model with a better grip and does not require a doc connector to sync to a computer
- The Pulse is cheaper by about $40 and not quite as ergonomic
Livescribe’s K-12 Page: http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/education/learning.html
Livescribe’s Education Blog: http://www.edlivescribe.com/
60+ Educational uses for the Livescribe smartpen: https://docs.google.com/View?id=d8zt8kt_35d6m36wg9
Livescribes Educational FAQ: http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/media/pdf/education/Livescribe_K-12_FAQ.pdf
Download Livescribe software: http://www.livescribe.com/en-us/starthere/