5 Tips for Using a Bamboo Tablet

If you (or your college) can’t afford a tablet computer, then a peripheral tablet or digital pen can be a good inexpensive option.

For those who have never used a Bamboo Tablet, it’s like writing with a pen.  You hold the stylus like a pen.  When you apply pressure to the tablet, the mark (digital ink) does show up on the screen, but… It’s also not like a pen, in that the friction between the stylus and tablet is much different than that of ink gliding across paper.  This causes an “unanticipated roughness” in the appearance of text written on the tablet.

That being said, here are my 5 tips for using the tablet:

1.  Use proper ink width.  If you are given a choice, that is.  Your choice of ink width will probably depend on your writing style.  If you normally have small writing, you may want to use a thinner ink width.  Likewise, if you make larger letters, try a thicker ink.  Here are examples of different widths:

2. Relax. Clutching the pen and writing slowly is not worth the effort. You’re better off trying to imitate what you do naturally (with a real pen) than trying to “reteach” your hand how to write altogether.
Here’s what I mean.

3. Find a comfortable way to hold the stylus without disturbing the pen buttons.  If you accidentally press the button, which is right where you grip the pen,  it is like right-clicking with the mouse.  I’m not sure why the buttons on these styluses are always in such a bad location but they are on every tablet pen I’ve ever encountered.

4. Make an extra effort to dot your i’s and cross your t’s. These don’t always show up (especially if you normally do them quickly on paper).

5. Practice, practice, practice! (Did you think this wouldn’t make the top 5?)

To learn more about the Wacom Bamboo Tablet, here is the user’s manual.

One more tip, if you’ve got a Bamboo Tablet and can’t find an inking program on your computer (like OneNote or Windows Journal), then try installing the free program Jarnal (see Jarnal Tutorials in previous post).

This post was written by Christine Gardner  and edited by Maria Andersen.  

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Top 10 Technology Tools for Math 2008

1. Jing gives students and instructors the ability to capture an image of any graph or equation they see on their screen and share it anywhere else (message boards, emails, papers, digital assignments). Using Jing you can also record videos of up to 5 minutes in length. [Free, Mac/PC] Not sure how to use Jing? Check out the tutorials at the end of this post.

2. Wolfram Demonstrations provides close to 3,000 interactive demonstrations on mathematics. Students and instructors can play with demonstrations by downloading Mathematica Player. [Read more...]

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Infinite Whiteboard in Windows Journal?

The last few weeks of the semester I was teaching rational expressions in my algebra class. It seems to make the most sense to students if you simplify expressions while writing each subsequent step horizontally across the page. At the end of one line, I moved my pen to the next line of the Windows Journal page, and then stopped. Why on earth can’t I add more space to the right edge of the page like I can do on the bottom of the page? I’d like to get to the right edge of the screen and have the option to insert space on the right to extend the page horizontally.

It’s all digital for heaven’s sake! My virtual “whiteboard” could go on for miles horizontally in the digital world. Why doesn’t it?

On the off chance that I have the attention of someone at Microsoft … can you please fix the PDF problem in Windows Journal while you’re in there tinkering with the code?

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Going Over the Test: Technology Style

So you’ve given a test in your calculus class – the dreaded test that covers related rates, optimization, and graphical analysis. You could spend the next class period going through the questions on the exam and answering questions – but if you do that, then that’s all you’ll do.

Let’s see … how can we go over the test without losing class time?

Well, here’s how I’m doing it now – I record the making of the answer key.

1. Print the test to Windows Journal.
2. Record yourself explaining each problem (use Jing) while you write the answer key in Journal (or OneNote).
3. Produce each problem as a separate file, and load the files (or links to the files) into your online course shell.

Here’s one of the related rates problems.

And for the graphical analysis problem, I recorded a couple different versions of how you might have taken the derivatives for the problem (I needed them for grading anyways). In this case, I produced a separate video for each part (first derivative, 2nd derivative by log differentiation, 2nd derivative by quotient rule, etc.)

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Bringing Equations to Windows Journal

Inspired by a post from Sam (on the blog 4TeachersSake) on using MathType to bring nice-looking equations into OneNote, I thought I would try bringing equations into [Read more...]

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