Many of us in math (and many other technical subjects) are now using tablets (slate tablets, tablet PCs, or peripheral tablets) to teach classes. Using a tablet to project what you’re writing has several advantages over traditional whiteboards/blackboards:

1. You can face the students (instead of facing the board).
2. You can make better use of color, shading, and drawing tools (see How Tablets Enhance the Math).
3. You can save your lessons in as either images or screencaptures (videos of the computer screen with your audio recorded in sync).

There is, however, one problem. When you project the image of your journaling software onto the “big screen” in your room, the pen tip is typically projected as a black pixel. This is not so much of a problem when you’re actually writing, but is a big problem when you’re using the cursor to point at some part of the screen (nobody in the classroom can see where you’re pointing).

Luckily, there’s a simple solution. Kenrick Mock (@macharoni on twitter), from the University of Alaska Anchorage, a computer programmer and tablet PC enthusiast has written two programs that simply create a colored circle of emphasis around the cursor area. The pen tip becomes easily visible.


I’ve written Kenrick’s free PenAttention program before, but it was worth mentioning again for two reasons. First, Kenrick has just written an update for the PenAttention (for tablet computers) . Second, Kenrick also quietly wrote a program called CursorAttention, designed for those of you using peripheral tablets (external tablets that plug in to your computer via USB, like the Wacom Bamboo).

The new update has a few new features:

  • Support for mapping to extended displays (displays a highlight on extended displays like Microsoft PowerPoint in Presenter View mode or Classroom Presenter in Dual-Monitor Output Mode)
  • Support for rectangular highlight (useful for highlighting text passages or lines)
  • Right-click to toggle highlight color


Kenrick also recorded a nice tutorial video to show you what PenAttention will do on both the native computer screen and on the projected screen.