I'd like to emphasize the fact that it is only $69. What a bargain!
It was very easy to install on my Mac. The same install disc works for Mac or PC. After the install, a tutorial automatically started and walked me through some basic tasks.
After installation, I was surprised that there was no program that came with it to draw in. Turns out, I had opted to not install "Bamboo Dock" because it sounded like that wasn't something I was interested in (now I have no idea why). Bamboo Dock is the container for their draw program "Doodler" and a few other fun apps to use with the Bamboo pen. One is a program that turns your handwriting into text. The accuracy was ok.
I found it very easy to use the tablet. My handwriting wasn't quite as nice as it would be with a pen on paper, but it was close. I had no problem writing on the tablet and seeing it on the computer screen.
The only problem I had was that there are no pen tools in Word 2011 for Mac. I had watched this video and thought that the pen tools would automatically become available or some way to draw would be apparent. I asked a co-worker and all we could figure out was the scribble tool, but you have to reselect it every time you raise the pen. So, in order to dot an i or cross a t, you have to select the pen tool again and do it, then select it again to write a new word. That's not practical.
I found other options: free draw/paint programs (I tried One Motion Sketch & Paint) and online whiteboards like Scriblink that allow you to use a mouse or whatever to draw. I was looking for something easy for faculty though - Word would be ideal since it is readily available and pretty much everyone is familiar with it.
Turns out, the video is showing Word 2010 for Windows. I installed the Bamboo on my PC and voila - it was amazing. When I opened up Word, the pen tools were automatically there. Yay!
So, what is the relevance of this tool? Educators can use it while lecturing in a face-to-face class as they would a regular chalk/whiteboard or they can record a screencast of themselves talking through a calculation, problem, etc - something that needs to be presented visually with some verbal elaboration. It could be recorded with Camtasia, Jing, Screencast-o-matic -- any program that captures a screencast.
I think the combination of the Bamboo pen and a screencast program is a better option than the Livescribe pen for a few reasons:
- I dislike seeing what is coming in the tutorial and think that being able to look ahead can be overwhelming to learners (see my post on the Livescribe pen).
- Livescribe is very proprietary. The pencasts export as .pencast and can only be viewed by others who have installed Livescribe desktop unless they are uploaded to Livescribe Online.
- There is no way to edit or caption Livescribe pencasts. When the tablet/screencast option I'm suggesting in this post, you are limited to the editing/captioning options of the screencast program you choose. If it is Camtasia (which I love!), you have extensive editing capabilities and an excellent, easy to use captioning area. Jing does not allow for editing and I believe you have to pay a nominal fee to edit in Screencast-o-matic.
Image from http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/review/1558059/wacom-bamboo-pen-touch