Using the Wacom DTU-1031 For My Flipped Classroom:
I love my mac. But I’ve held on to my tablet PC just to make my screencasts for my “flipped classroom.” Honestly, that’s the only thing I use the PC for. It’s getting old and I’ve been searching for a new solution. I know many people use the Wacom Bamboo, which I’ve found to be a great “in the classroom” tool (I’ll go into more detail), but my handwriting is just not as smooth and that bothers me enough not to use it. I also prefer, when doing my videos, to be writing on a surface where I can see exactly what I am doing. And so I’ve hung on to the tablet for video creation.
But last week, I got a new toy – the Wacom DTU-1031. And I’m really loving it! The DTU-1031 provides a 10.1 inch LCD display powered by a USB cable. Additionally, there are 4 customizable ExpressKeys on the side to assign to common functions (such as bringing up the properties menu or an onscreen keyboard). You can also customize the button on the pen to perform a variety of functions (I went with eraser, of course!). My writing was flawless when I am sitting down at a desk and the tip feel and sensitivity can be adjusted to your liking. I will say that I’ve never enjoyed writing on my tablet PC as much as the feel of writing on paper because, well, writing on glass just does not provide the same traction. However, after customizing the settings on the DTU-1031, I am completely satisfied with the writing experience. The only downside is that it’s not wireless and for that I’ll have to hang on to my Bamboo Capture!
The one thing that will have to change in creating my videos using the DTU-1031 with my mac is my typical workflow. Let me explain. Typically, I have created a PPT lesson to serve as the basis for my screencast and then used the inking feature in PPT. However, in using the Wacom and inking with PPT on my mac, the writing is not smooth for some reason (curves look pointed and the motion is not fluid). So I had to come up with a new solution, which ultimately is going to be much better, I think.
Problem: inking in PPT
Solution: save PPT as PDF and use Open-Sankore to ink
-save as PDF
-open with Open-Sankore
-do my inking in Open-Sankore (which actually gives me many more features than I had in PPT)
-record with Camtasia
I’ve also been using the DTU-1031 to do a lot of inking on the screen (to create solutions, reviews, etc) as opposed to writing on a piece of paper and scanning it. For simple inking on a PDF, I tend to use FormulatePro.
Finally, I’ve been using the Wacom DTU-1031 for my after school extra instruction sessions. Typically, only a couple of students come in and we review any difficult problems that they didn’t quite get in class. I’ve been able to pass the tablet around so that a student can solve the problem (in Open-Sankore). Since the tablet displays the work and my computer screen mirrors that, we immediately have two screens to be looking at. If more than 2 students come in, I project my computer screen on the board so that it’s readable for all of us. When we are done, I can export the work we’ve done to PDF and send that to all students who were in the group.
Using the Wacom Bamboo Tablet in the Classroom:
The best thing about the flipped classroom is the individualized and personalized work that goes on. Often times, students will get into groups based on their needs for the day. So if one group is stuck on a specific question when I come around to help, we will try and tackle it together. I found myself going to the board a lot on occasions when the group size was more than 4 students because it was too hard for them all to see what I was writing on a piece of paper. The problem with that, however, is that I was not sitting down with them. I know it seems minor, but sitting with the students during small discussion time can be so valuable. They ask different questions and the working dynamic is just totally different. Now that I have the Bamboo Capture, this can be my wireless solution. As long as I have my computer screen hooked up to my project, the tablet will give me the ability to sit down with a group, but have the writing be projected on the board, so that we can all see it and discuss at once. The tablet can also be passed around so that students can jump in with insight and take over. An additional benefit of having this work projected on the board is that the whole class can be aware of the problem that I’m working on in the small group so that they can join in based on need. Of course, I would prefer using the DTU-1031 for this work also, but since it’s not wireless and I tend to move around a ton, I’m just not sure how I could make that work. So this is where I see myself falling back on the bamboo tablet.
Note: I’m still getting used to writing on the bamboo, but one of the things I discovered to be really helpful was to tape a piece of lined paper over the tablet. The pen is still recognized through the paper and this makes it much easier, and in my opinion smoother, to write on.
~ Giveaway ~
And to kickstart the summer off right, one lucky reader will have the chance to win a Wacom DTU-1031 to use in their classroom! To enter, please leave a comment below if you’re using a Wacom tablet and have any suggestions or best practices that you’d like to share OR if you don’t currently use a Wacom tablet, explain how you’d like to use it in your classroom.