Each month Chris Collier brings us his latest discovery from the DSA sector.
Chris Collier is Strategic Relationship Manager for Invate, e-Quality Learning and Learning Labs. Chris’ role involves developing professional partnerships with assessors, assessment centres and HEIs to provide sound advice and value. Prior to this, Chris was a freelance needs assessor and Associate Director of Contact Associates.
Livescribe Aegir Dolphin & Marlin
Following several assessor queries about the new Livescribe Aegir, I finally got round to sitting down with the pen and my smartphone to try it out. The Aegir comes in cheaper than the two preceding models (the Echo and the 3) and the product comparison below provides a useful overview of why this is. Two main differences for me are the reduction in memory capacity from 2GB to 128MB and the removal of the microphone from the pen itself. These differences are linked as all recording now happens on the smartphone utilising the phone’s microphone (or an external microphone if this has been recommended), meaning that less memory is needed in the pen. With the current focus on smartphone apps in education, this seems like a sensible move and may also remove the scratching of the pen nib in the recording, which some users complained about in earlier models.
The pen paired easily via Bluetooth with the latest version of the iOS app and a small pad of ‘Pocketsize’ smartpaper comes in the box. The recording on the smartphone was easily activated using the buttons at the bottom of the paper but the transcription from the paper into the app did miss out some parts of letters as if I was going too fast for it. I then printed out an A4 sheet of smartpaper from the Livescribe website, which transcribed my handwriting into the app more accurately. Occasionally, the pen would struggle to recognise the paper and would make a little chirrup in protest – it would be useful to have the facility to turn this off as it could draw unwanted attention to students in lectures.
These issues may be solved by recommending the genuine Livescribe A4 notebooks with the pen but I didn’t have one of these to hand and upgrading the pen firmware via the app may help too. It would also be worth highlighting that students should set their smartphones or tablets to prevent them from automatically locking as this can interrupt the recording and connection with the pen.
These issues can all be addressed with app updates in the future and we have contacted Livescribe for more information on these so watch this space! I would have also liked to test the replacement Livescribe Desktop software for Windows, which looks promising, but this has not yet been released. In my opinion, the Aegir could still be a good recommendation for students but they would currently need some patience and a degree of tech-savviness to prevent it from just being a very expensive pen.
If you would like more information on the Livescribe range, or any of the other Assistive Technology supplied through the DSA and Access to Work, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would love to continue the discussion.
Please note, these are my own views based on hands-on experience with the product and are not the views of the AT Voice.