Free yourself from chalk dust!

Wondering what that monitor-that-doesn’t-quite-look-like-a-monitor in your classroom could be?  If it has a plastic pen attached, it’s called a Sympodium, manufactured by SMART Technologies, Inc.  If you’re thinking about trying it out this term, here are some things for you to consider:

Pros.

  1. The ATC has been surveying students who participated in captured lectures (using Echo360) this year.  So far, 212 students have returned surveys.  9% prefer faculty members use chalk in their lectures.  44% of students prefer that faculty members use digital ink, such as the Sympodium.
  2. No need to erase.  Just get a new page.  Think of all the time you’ll save!
  3. Students see the process of you writing, as you’re doing it.  Whether you are solving an equation or documenting a process, students have commented that this is extremely valuable.
  4. You can face your students while writing.
  5. You can save your notes.  Maybe later you will post them in your course site, or just use them for your own reference.
  6. SMART has created a software program called Notebook for use with the Sympodium.  One faculty member said, “It’s like paper.”  There are also tools that make it better than paper, like graph paper backgrounds on-demand, line-drawing and shape tools!

Cons.

  1. It does take about 30 minutes to learn, plus a little practice.
  2. It works best with handwriting that isn’t tiny, and sometimes requires a little re-training.
  3. It’s technology, so there is the occasional breakdown.  Call x5220 immediately!
  4. There is no chalk dust to breathe in and we know lots of folks really like the smell.

For more information:

  1. Learn more at the ATC’s Teaching with Technology Collaboratory website:  http://www.wpi.edu/+Collaboratory/HowTo/Sympodium/
  2. The manual for SMART Notebook:  http://www2.smarttech.com/kbdoc/123570
  3. View this 4 minute video from the Technology for Teaching and Learning Team, outlining some suggestions and best practices:   http://echo360.wpi.edu/ess/echo/presentation/b64a08ae-0d8b-4394-b35f-ea0cfb3046c7.  This will launch Echo360 (WPI’s Lecture Capturing System).  Click “High Speed Connection”.
  4. The ATC’s Technology for Teaching and Learning team is always happy to meet with you if you would like to schedule an appointment for an overview or more in-depth training – contact the team at sympodium@wpi.edu.

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Instructional Technology Specialist at WPI

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