Using the Wacom 2241 Pen Display in the Chemistry Classroom
One of the main things the attracted me to the iPad in the first place was the way it is a tool for creating short videos demonstrating chemistry problems to be posted online for student viewing and reviewing. One of the first tasks I completed when I got my first iPad back in 2010 was create a screencast using the ShowMe app that I posted to help my students review Lewis dot structures. The last time I checked it had over 11,500 views! (That's a lot for me.)
I started creating chemistry videos back in the early 2000's using an HP tablet. It took forever. The software was slow and then the video had to be "rendered" in an appropriate "codec" which could then be posted online as a Quicktime video or Windows Media Player video. Here are some of my earliest examples that I called Chemistry mini web lectures. I still use them today and many students have commented that the short videos have helped them understand problem solving.
Movie production just got a lot easier and quicker for me! My department acquired 3 Wacom 2241 pen displays.
The pen display is a large tablet or (22") extra monitor that can be written on with a special pen. The display must be connected to a computer via USB and DVI cables. I can then open my lecture notes in an app that lets me write on them. Currently I am using Sketchbook as the app that allows the writing. I open my lecture notes as a Tiff or JPEG file that I can then write on with the pen. This program allows me to write in different colors and zoom in or move the document around on the screen. There are two very good values to this. First, I can project whatever I am writing.
That picture was one of my early attempts at using the tablet for lecture instead of a document camera. I have since learned how to zoom in and fill the screen much better. I don't like writing on a blackboard or whiteboard because I want to face my students. I want to see the expression on their faces and get eye contact with them. I think that is important. Learning is a relational experience. The document reader is good but I often move off of the range of the camera. Then my students have to tell me that they cannot see what I am writing. With the pen display I know exactly what the students can see. Up to this time I have done three full lectures this week completely with the tablet.
My favorite use of the pen display is that I can screen record or screen capture as I write and talk. So I can just open QuickTime and go to file and choose New Screen Recording. I can record what ever happens on the screen along with whatever I say as I write. This allows me to very quickly create videos that I then post on YouTube. It is so easy to post on YouTube. Once you have an account you just click on "upload" and then drag your video from the folder on your computer to the YouTube window and it uploads in a matter of minutes. It is really nice how easy and short the process is. I then email the link to my students and have them watch the video and fill in my lecture outline notes. Often the question comes up, "What about accessibility and captioning?" I think that at some point very soon, I am simply going to assign a video to each student and have them write me a transcript of it. I can then upload that transcript to YouTube and it will sync with my video. This will give even more reinforcement to the students' learning. I will probably give the students a little extra credit for their work. So it could be win/win for all.
Having my students watch the lecture or part of the lecture at home allows me more time to answer questions in class or go deeper into topics in a way I would not usually be able to. Having part of my lectures online allows the students to watch them as often as they like and when ever they like. It provides a "replay" of lecture when they wish to prepare for an exam. Here are some examples:
I was able to make and post these videos in just a few minutes!
Some of my colleagues are doing most or all of their lectures online. And then when the students come to class they do what used to be the "homework". In other words what used to be done at home is now done in class and what was done on campus is now done at home. Many have referred to this as "flipping" their class. I am still on the fence with complete flipping in chemistry, but I think I will do it in moderation. I like the ability to give more help to my students and answer their questions. I also like that my students can replay part of the lecture over and over for better understanding. I also like the way the Wacom pen display is much easier to write on than an iPad. Unfortunately I have terrible handwriting. I think going from the iPad to the Pen Display as far as the writing goes is like watching a normal person's writing go from 1st grade to 3rd grade quality penmanship!
Of course this was not so much about the iPad as it was accomplishing some of the things I wanted to do with it. iPads are just tools, very good tools. Deep understanding and learning is the goal. Teachers ought to have their toolbox complete with the best tools available to foster student growth and deep learning.