Our district is looking at various writing mouse pad products and I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who has used any of the above, or any other similar pads. I've had an Interwrite Pad since November and really like it and the software it has. I've also used a simple relatively inexpensive iPen. The best part of all this to me is the fact that paired with a computer and projector, this is one piece of technology that can easily move about the classroom and can actively involve the students if used that way.
So please let me know what you have used, what you like/don't like and send along any recommendations you may have.
Thanks,
Arlene

Tags: Airliner, Interwrite, iPen

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I have a bluetooth Wacom tablet that I purchased mainly for graphics. There are several times I pull it out in the classroom and control my computer from across the room (all my equipment is hooked up to large tvs via an averkey). I love how it grabs student's attention, even when they know you are doing it. If I am demoing a particular technique I may hand the tablet to a student and ask them to define a paricular concept, to finish a perspective drawing I have started, and basically just involve them in whatever process we are discussing. I love placing the tablet in front of a student and watching them get excited about getting to demo something. It seems to pull in even my most relucant learners.
I have had a similar experience with the Wacom tablet. Very handy and keeps the kids interested. They love when I let them use it to do stuff on screen.
I have a Wacom tablet that plugs into my USB port- Comes with a cordless mouse and stylus. I get it out when the kids are doing photo editting and need to make very detailed adjustments. I have add it more years and to be honest I don't use it much.
I have a tablet pc now and I'll never go back. However, I used to use a Wacom tablet and I loved it. Mine was rather large and not great for walking around the classroom (or moving at all really), but it was wonder for designing materials and using online whiteboards with my distance students.

The should have a wireless one by now, I'd seriously look into that.

Good luck.
Dan
No, I can't move around the room with it. A wireless projector would be nice, but alas, not meant to be :) I was just referring to the Wacom tablets. I'm assuming that they have wireless versions by now and that would be better for moving around the class and sharing with students (and I just noticed that Michal uses a bluetooth version--cool). Even if you don't share with students, being mobile at least gets there eyes moving so it's more difficult to sleep :)

An interactive white board would certainly be better to encourage interaction or, of course, student computers. In my context, though, neither are available. The tablet is just what I use personally and I bring it in to complement a desktop and projector in the room.

The most interactive I get using the tablet is having students or groups mark up texts for pronunciation, writing, or presentation classes. It's really great for pronunciation because IPA symbols are a bear to type in. It's nice for presentations too because its difficult to annotate a PowerPoint well enough to get your point across.
All your comments are a great help. One of the reasons I like the Interwrite Pad type of tool is the mobility it gives a teacher, especially in a group of 30 or more students. Interactive whiteboards are great for primary classes with 20 small students, but I like the idea of being able to move around the classroom while I teach and have students solve problems with the pad, or take turns during a lesson. Too often with an interactive whiteboard the only person interacting is the teacher, and what's the fun in that for the students. As mentioned above, the mobility of the pads are much better for that sleeping student.
I just saw the Wacom with the bluetooth, but it has no programs.
Interwrite has as many tools and a gallery to rival Smart Tech. Is anyone using the Airliner?
The Wacom tablet is designed to be a graphic design tool, but works the same as the airliner. You can download smartboard software and use that with your wacom tablet. The big difference I noticed was the controls on the side of the airliner, but there is also a huge difference in price. My bluetooth Wacom tablet was well under $200 for the large size. I purchased it for it's design capabilites but enjoy the "Smartboard" aspect of it as well.

As for the Interwrite software - I installed the trial version when we purchased the boards for our district and found the software ok, but we didn't purchase the full version when the trial expired. I may reconsider if I could find activities online to download for my teachers the way I can with Smartboard lessons.
We have had interwrite boards for 2 years now. I teach all my classes with a tablet PC but I use the interwrite software. I let the students use the boards to work in groups and share their work and ideas with the class. It takes them a little while to get use to looking at the screen while trying to write but they really enjoy working with them. The software works much better with Progressbook since you can export your files in PDF format and then download the notes. We have 34 teachers teaching with tablet pc's but only have one tablet cart for students to use. The interwrite board have filled that gap a little.
We have three Wacom drawing pads and students use them for drawing and design. I heard somewhere that drawing with a mouse is like drawing with a bar of soap.
I use an Airliner combined with the SMART Recorder to record video tutorials. Once you get the settings figured out and get it set the way you want it, it works pretty well. I don't really do much with graphics...I mainly just use it to write text in PowerPoint, etc. The SMART software is very nice as well. SMART's newest software has to be activated I believe...I guess they figured out that many people were using their software with other companies' hardware. Here are some pros/cons for the Airliner:

Pros:
1) It works with the SMART software
2) It has an excellent battery life
3) The bluetooth range is good
4) SMART customer service has always been easy to reach...good customer service
5) I haven't done this yet, but another teacher at my school has used 2 or 3 Airliners at once to interact with SMART's software....so it seems like you could use multiple Airliners to play games by splitting the class into 2 or 3 groups, and allowing each group to have the ability to write or interact.

Cons:
1) The button on the side of the stylus is easy to accidently push...so I completely disabled it, as well as the buttons on the top of the Airliner. All of these buttons create chaos for the students. But like I said, I only use it to write text with...so maybe these buttons aren't so bad for other uses.
2) I have noticed that the software response is sluggish at times, but I think it's a driver issue...my SMARTBoard also does the same thing occassionally. Sometimes, when I write something, it starts writing in slow motion. VERY annoying, especially when I'm in the middle of making a video tutorial. And this problem exists on my slow school computer, as well as my fast computer at home. So I know it's not the computer that is slowing it down.
3) Initially when I first got the Airliner, a random straight line would sometimes connect two letters (the point where I lifted up on the first letter to the point where I started the second letter). If I remember correctly, I fixed this by adjusting the double-click area size (I think that's what they call it). That was very annoying and figuring out how to fix it was annoying.

Now that I have it running smoothly, I like the Airliner. It's fairly well designed, seems pretty rugged, has good battery life, and I believe is cheaper than its rivals...or at least it is for my district.

I have also used InterWrite Pads, and I liked them too. I don't recall having to figure out any weird settings or any random problems with writing text, but it's been a while since I used one. Their software was not as good as SMART's though, at least not in my opinion.

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