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Classroom Annotation with Wacom Tablets

Mary Bilder

Professor, Law School

This project seeks to replace static classroom monitors with Wacom Tablets. The Wacom Tablet revolutionizes the teaching experience by enabling the instructor or a student to annotate spontaneously projected documents. Over the last decade, law school professors have embraced Powerpoint and other projection technologies to improve student learning. These technologies, however, share the fundamental problem that they do not permit live annotation. The Wacom Tablet solves this problem simply and effectively by allowing professors to write on the monitor screen. The Wacom Tablet will allow professors who already embrace technology to move their teaching to a more active level and will make it easy for slow adopters to see the advantages of at least occasionally preparing text-based slides for class.

Legal education focuses on text. Law school classes read cases, statutes, and regulations. Law students spend hours in research and writing. Despite technological advancements, most law professors continue to use blackboards because text can be written and then annotated during the class.

The Wacom Tablet improves this fundamental aspect of the classroom. The instructor prepares a slide or document with the text or image. The text is displayed in the classroom. Using the pen attached to the Tablet, the instructor underlines, circles, annotates—and then can erase and start over if necessary. For students, the Tablet allows them to experience “live” the process of the instructor critically analyzing crucial parts of text.  It is a valuable way to teach students how to scrutinize text by parsing the language and methodically examining it within the context of a lecture.

In addition to “live” annotation, the Wacom Tablet makes it easy to save the image with annotation or to capture the process of annotation. For many students, the knowledge that the annotated image will be posted after class allows them to focus in the classroom on understanding rather than scribbling or typing verbatim notes. In addition, the Wacom Tablet can be used in conjunction with a video taping in the classroom so that entire experience is captured.

The Wacom Tablet will aid students with different learning styles, learning disabilities, and physical disabilities. The annotation abilities of the Tablet support those students who learn well through visualization. For students with impaired vision, the Tablet offers the considerable advantages of projected text with clear annotations instead of small, semi-legible writing on a blackboard.