In past posts, I’ve written about my love for gadgets. While I’m not necessarily a collector of devices or an early adopter of things, I’m always exploring the ways that technology can make activities more efficient and the impact that its use has on my life. A few weeks ago, I purchased a Jot Touch, a fine-point stylus that can be used with an iPad or other tablet. I found that while I always had my iPad mini with me, I didn’t always have a piece of paper or a pen to take notes. A colleague suggested checking out the Jot Touch. After doing some research, I decided to give it a try. Here are some general observations and reflections about its use.
1. Taking notes with a pen is different than taking notes by typing. A few posts ago, I shared some research that examined students’ learning after taking handwritten notes or typewritten notes. Prior to the Jot Touch, I would use a small wireless keyboard to take notes on my iPad Mini. I found myself trying to type verbatim the things being said in a meeting and often was unable to keep up. I also found that the process took me cognitively away from the discussion or meeting that I was trying to capture in notes. Since the Jot Touch functions like a regular pen, I can now be more connected to the discussion. I do more summarizing in my notes and more drawings to capture big ideas.
2. It’s not just another stylus. I’ve tried using a spongy-tipped stylus before and I found that the stylus couldn’t keep up with my writing. It would skip on the screen or stop working. It just didn’t mimic the writing process enough. With the Jot Touch, however, the process is almost identical to writing on paper. The newest Jot Touch recognizes pressure sensitivity and gives you more control of writing. The Jot Touch also includes “palm rejection” so the tablet screen focuses on what you’re writing and not the accidental touch of a palm or wrist.
3. You need a good note-taking app. When I decided to move to handwritten notes on my iPad, I explored all of the popular note-taking apps on the market. I decided to use NotesPlus even though friends had recommended other apps. I wanted to find an app that fit with my writing style and that would be easy to use. NotesPlus fit the bill. If you’re considering using the Jot Touch, be sure to find a note-taking app that fits your needs.
4. It supports paper-free initiatives. While all tablet pens probably do this to some degree, I found the Jot Touch to be the best way to mimic paper and pencil activities. Our campus is trying to limit its paper consumption and has capped student printing. This semester, I’m attempting to do more grading by hand with the Jot Touch. With NotesPlus, I’m able to markup PDFs and provide feedback on student writing. I’m still fine-tuning the workflow but I’m hopeful that the process will allow me to provide more goal-directed feedback that fosters student learning.