Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wacom Bamboo Pen

The Wacom Bamboo Pen is a little external writing tablet and pen that you connect to your computer via USB and then you are able to write in your own handwriting and view/save in various applications such as Word, PowerPoint, drawing programs, etc. You can also use it as a mouse to navigate.

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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.  
  3. 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

4 comments:

  1. Any update on Mac pen tools? I got a Bamboo to go with my Mac and found the same thing. No pen tools! I don't have a PC to try with the Bamboo. Any suggestions? Have you worked with any tablet PCs?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Any update on Mac pen tools? I got a Bamboo to go with my Mac and found the same thing. No pen tools! I don't have a PC to try with the Bamboo. Any suggestions? Have you worked with any tablet PCs?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Any update on Mac pen tools? I got a Bamboo to go with my Mac and found the same thing. No pen tools! I don't have a PC to try with the Bamboo. Any suggestions? Have you worked with any tablet PCs?

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think the issue is with Office for Mac and won't be fixed until a new version comes out (assuming you're trying Word or PPT). Try Paintbrush: http://paintbrush-mac.en.softonic.com/mac.

    ReplyDelete