Teaching with a graphic tablet and a projector: replacing a whiteboard or overhead projector

Mac OS X

Vinh Nguyen


February 27, 2010

Many times when I teach, I often want to keep a copy of what I write on the board. Why? I can have a softcopy to refer to when students have follow-up questions, I can re-use these notes for the next discussion if there are only a few people, and I can re-use them in later quarters. In high school, I always liked the overhead projectors. Teachers can write and look get feedbacks from the students face to face. Also, you can just scroll your super long sheet up as you write and not worry about erasing like on the white board. Later in lecture, you can pull them back if you want need to refer to the previous notes. I always had an idea to use some kind of a tablet device with the projector, which all modern classrooms should have. I finally decided to buy a fairly inexpensive Genius graphic tablet from Walmart for $40. Wacom tablets are probably better, but they are very expensive, especially the larger ones. I guess they are expensive because they are meant to be used with photoshop by artists. In my case, I need a large tablet but it doesn't have to be premium since all I'll be doing is writing words and math symbols on it. My platform is a Mac OS X, and this link discusses some tablets and programs. This site discusses the tablet PC's use in the classroom altogether. After some trials, the best program seems to be inkbook, which costs $40. However, I guess the Genius driver doesn't play well with inkbook. To get it to work, I have to turn on "Handwriting Recognition" in System Preferences > Ink. In Inkbook, i can write in the ink mode. I see a yellowpad whenever I write. This SHOULD NOT be there, but it works for now. Wacom would play nicer. Update 3/27/2010: I returned the Genius tablet a few weeks ago as it does not play nice with inkbook. The author recommended a Wacom. However, it is too expensive for me (a decent sized one) and I won't need one yet since I don't need to TA next quarter. Hopefully, the Apple Ipad will have a pen with it so I can use it with this (main reason I would buy one). Otherwise I would have to consider getting a cheap netbook with a pen.