Falling in love with my writing tablet

by James

in Teaching

Back when I was in Jerusalem I had this amazing little whiteboard that was the perfect size for me. During tutorial sessions I’d whip it out on a moment’s notice, start drawing stuff and put it up in front of my webcam. When we started packing our things to move back to Canada last December there just wasn’t room for it, so I left it back in Jerusalem. “Surely I’ll be able to get a new one in North America”, I thought.

Well I come back to the land of big box stores and huge consumer choice and I couldn’t find a decent replacement anywhere. It was ridiculous: everything was either too small, too big, or screwed into a wall.   I had to settle for buying this green monstrosity that was about a metre long and was super unwieldy. By the end of a night of tutoring my arms were sore from holding the damn thing up.

There had to be a better way, I thought. So a little while ago bought a drawing tablet from Wacom. The bamboo pen.

I tried it for about 10 minutes, found it immensely frustrating and put it away. I mean, it was good for painting trees and clouds and so on, but not exactly what I needed for drawing molecules.

A week later I was at my local Mac dealer looking into trying to buy a more updated tablet that would actually do the job. Then I realized my problem – I had been using Corel Painter  instead of actual tablet drawing software (nobody has ever accused me of being technically proficient).

Five minutes with Moo software’s Tablet Draw and I was in love.

About a month ago I finally stopped lugging around my whiteboard, and started using the tablet draw for teaching on Skype.  Everything looks – and feels – so much better.

So far haven’t had too any complaints about the old “show the whiteboard and then take it away” technique. Plus I can save the files after the session is done and email it to the student afterwards. And it’s easy to make pretty pictures.


The only disadvantage is I’m not holding up a whiteboard for 6 hours a night so I have to find an alternate upper body workout.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

azmanam

Thank you for the review. A writing tablet’s been on my wish list for a while… but not enough of a necessity to ever really pursue it. Is it Mac only, or does it work for PC, too?

I could see myself using Jing or some such screen capture technology to make short videos of myself modeling example problems or going over exam questions out of class, then uploading the video to our BlackBoard page or something.

ChemDraw – while I’m pretty fast w/ it – would probably be too slow for this purpose. But a writing tablet would be perfect.

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James

It was about $80 and worth every penny. I’d assume it would work just as well for PC. Like I said the key thing is to get a decent program for drawing with the tablet. MooSoft only seems to work w/ Macs but I’m sure there are other programs out there that work well.
For capturing video on-screen everything I’ve read tells me that Screenflow and Camtasia are both great programs – Screenflow is more for Macs, while Camtasia works well for PC’s.

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