Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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First review of Papershow – a new smart pen

Category : General

Some number of months ago, I came across two products that seemed to provide similar capabilities. (see update below) The first is the Livescribe Pulse SmartPen, which I purchased and now adore.

Believe it or not, the Livescribe pen has some competition in US markets. There’s a new player in town, called Papershow. Papershow has been available in the UK for a while, and is making a push to market in the US. To that end, they have sent me a demo unit.

There are a few observations to make before I get too deep. First, they made it quite clear that when the demonstration period is over, I must send the device back. While I understand that and respect it, it seems a bit harsh to ask me to demo a device, (hopefully) make it a part of my daily routine, and then radically remove it hoping I then go purchase one? Not sure that’s the kind of marketing I’d do. Now before you call me selfish, I already have a Pulse SmartPen which I (again stating) adore. Therefore, I am a bit biased and won’t be too upset to send this one back.

Ok, enough ranting. On to the preliminary product review.

The box came via FedEx. The kit includes everything you see here.  The way the device is supposed to work is simple.

1. Take pen and accessories out of the box.

2. Insert AAA battery into pen.

3. Plug USB key into available USB port and run installation software.

A quick note, I am not sure how long the AAA battery would last, but one of the things I quite like about the Pulse SmartPen is that the battery is quite good and you can see the status. Now I suppose it could be convenient to be able to pop in a new AAA battery and get more juice out of it. This seems a bit similar to the difference in Flip Ultra cameras and Flip Minos. The Ultras use AA batteries and the Flip Minos have an internal rechargeable battery.

Simple, right? Nope.

The USB key seems to be both a Bluetooth adapter and a flash drive. Ok so far. There are all of three files that you see in exploring the USB drive.

filesWhen I launch the application, a simple GUI asks you to install the software. The problem is, it never happens.

papershow installationHow in the world can it say “No software upgrade to download”? Insanity.

Now of course, I suspect I know why it doesn’t work. I’m at work, and behind a strong filter and firewall. What is probably happening is that I cannot download the software because it is hosted on a server blocked by our filter.

So logically, I should go download the software from the web site, right? I can’t find it anywhere. The support section requires the creation of an account. Why in the world? Why should I have to register just to access support documents? Google doesn’t help here, either, at least not in my searches.

I submitted my question to their tech support but I should not have this trouble this quickly after opening the box.

So, I am without other option, I will pack the device back in the box and wait for their response.

BTW: Papershow is NOT Mac compatible.

UPDATE: Papershow has been pleasantly responsive in this, and has shipped out a new device. It seems, however, that I am mistaken as to its purpose. Instead of competing with the Pulse pen, it is designed to allow you to annotate presentations being shown on a screen, except you annotate on printed copies of the slides. I have a new device, and it appears to sync fine, so more soon.

Comments (3)

Sounds like another case of a cool idea that isn’t followed through because the cool idea “should be enough.” My own experience is from trying to use Interwrite boards after they managed to outbid their SMART and Promethean competitors. Mini review: You don’t even get what you pay for.

What is it supposed to do? Any potential advantages over the Pulse Pen? Does not sound like a worthy competitor at this point.
(I love my Pulse Pen, too!)

Similar technology, but different use: Papershow reproduces what you write on a pad on your computer screen, or, more likely, a data projector, so you can use it as an “electronic flipchart.” I bought one to try out for teaching purposes, with somewhat mixed results.

It works OK as a replacement for the whiteboard, with text faithfully reproduced and some basic graphic functionality to draw arrows, ellipses, etc. However, I am not sure that the students will like it, as, unlike a rolling conventional whiteboard, text disappears suddenly when I start a new page, which can be very annoying when trying to take notes.

The big let-down is when using it to annotate Powerpoint. My intention was to leave blank spaces in my presentation so that I could work through problems in handwriting, integrated into the presentation — I liked this idea, because doing mathematical calculations and derivations works much better when they are hand written than when typeset, and I planned to save the annotated slides for the students to download if they wanted them. Unfortunately, though, Papershow does not integrate properly as a plugin to Powerpoint; instead it imports your presentation into its own software then shows the slides with its own viewer. This means that all but the most basic functionality of Powerpoint is lost, with none of the animations, embedded web applets, etc available, which means I really cannot use it in the way I had hoped.