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Learning Library Blog Digital Ink in the Virtual and Hybrid Classroom
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Digital Ink in the Virtual and Hybrid Classroom

By Don Varga
February 25, 2021
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The Innovator Solutions section includes contributions from corporate sponsors and advertisers representing education organizations, businesses, policy-making bodies and other influencers dedicated to transforming education. This blog post was provided by Wacom.

Just a little over a year ago, educators found themselves scrambling to prepare and deliver all-digital, all-remote teaching.

Teachers learned new skills in record time and districts adapted everything from class schedules to assessments and curriculum. It was often chaotic. Sometimes frustrating. And it’s taken time for educators and students alike to adapt and keep adapting as the situation evolves.

Teachers have long dealt with the challenge of keeping students engaged and on-task in face-to-face learning environments, but now, in fully remote and hybrid ones, the engagement challenge is even more significant. The good news is there are tools that can help.

Wacom digital pen tablets and displays have long been used for doing creative work on a computer, such as illustration and photo editing, and in animation houses, industrial design studios, and creative agencies. In the past several months, educators have discovered that digital pen tablets and displays can help them enhance both remote and in-class instruction in ways that engage students and inspire collaboration.

Show it. See it. Explain it.

Teachers know how important it is to keep students’ attention and explain concepts and ideas “in the moment.” But it can be hard to use a mouse, trackpad and keyboard to write out mathematical and scientific formulas as teachers introduce and explain concepts and processes or to drill down to show the connections between ideas or processes.

Similarly, with just a mouse and keyboard, it’s awkward for teachers to make simple sketches and diagrams or annotate assignments as they work individually with students or small groups. But all that changes with the addition of a pen tablet or display. These devices, when plugged into a computer or tablet, help give teachers the ability to work naturally by hand, just like they do in the classroom at the whiteboard or even a traditional chalkboard.

Here are just some of the many ways educators are using pen tablets to turn shared screens into compelling instruction:

Creating visual images and explanatory diagrams

Teachers can work in the programs they already use, such as PowerPoint, Word, Google Slides and collaborative environments, such as the whiteboard applications in Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet.

Marking up and annotating PDFs

Teachers can assess student work, explain assignments and answer questions during live instructional sessions.

Emphasizing key points

Teachers can use digital pen colors and line weight to reinforce key concepts and processes.

Creating mind maps, outlines, sketches and graphic organizers

Teachers can explain ideas or assignents to students visually, modeling ways to approach complex concepts for students.

Capturing students’ ideas during class discussions

Teachers can arrange and re-arrange key points to stimulate critical thinking, and then save those discuss notes for students to use later.

Play it again. Learn it on your own time.

Video is playing a larger and larger role in making remote and hybrid learning successful in one of two primary ways; either by recording classroom sessions for students to review after class, or adapting a “flipped classroom” approach, and producing short instructional videos for students to review before class.

For students who have limited access to live lessons, these video-based resources can help them keep up with schoolwork. Using a pen tablet or display for creating instructional videos gives teachers the ability to write or draw out concepts or operations while using a stop/start technique to explain ideas so students can see the steps they’re taking as they work through a problem or activity – just as they would on a whiteboard or chalkboard in class.

In remote and hybrid learning environments, students often struggle with long texts. With instructional videos, teachers can use a pen tablet or pen display to create short and engaging visual lessons that give students ample opportunities to pause, reflect, rewind and review so that they can master concepts more easily.

Teachers don’t need to be artists!

While great teaching is an art, using a Wacom digital pen tablet or pen display to teach doesn’t require any artistic ability. A pen tablet or pen display is a tool that can free teachers to demonstrate more effectively, answer questions and dig into complex concepts in a way that feels natural and familiar and helps keep students engaged, participating, and collaborating.

To make this digital ink technology easier for teachers to use in a variety of instructional settings, Wacom has included five bonus education software applications with its Wacom Intuos, One by Wacom and Wacom One products to make it easier for educators to integrate pen tablet and pen display tools into instruction.

Additional resources for educators

The Wacom eLearning Blog features articles, videos and tutorials developed by teachers to give educators ideas about enriching remote and hybrid instruction. Learn about best practices for creating flipped classroom resources and discover tips for creating engaging student videos and instructional presentations. Along with these resources, recorded educator-to-educator webinars, and eLearning Getting Started videos and tutorials are available for on-demand viewing.

Seeing new possibilities

Digital pen and tablet solutions can help make remote, hybrid, and traditional onsite teaching and learning easier to create and deliver and will help make instruction more engaging for students across the curriculum.

Don Varga is vice president for marketing in the Americas for Wacom Technology Corporation. He leads Wacom’s education outreach programs as part of his portfolio. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Miami University, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbus College of Art & Design and his MBA in marketing from Marylhurst University.