Digital inking

Digital Ink
Koen Timmers
by Koen Timmers
Educator - Author - Keynote speaker - Global Teacher Prize 2017 finalist

Will the handwriting disappear?

A year ago I was convinced the handwriting would disappear. It would extinct like an ancient art only practiced by a handful of people across the world. But then I discovered the Pro Pen on my Surface. 

Will the handwriting extinct like an ancient art?

Using the ProPen on a Surface

Around 1880 a group of entrepreneurs and scientists met in Paris to discuss the future. The issue was how the French capital would look like fifty years. The conclusion was bleak: by continued growth in population and economy, they foresaw that the Parisian avenues would be buried under several meters horseshit. In 1885 the first car was invented. 

The French scientists and I made a mistake. The handwriting will not disappear and here's why. This article will discuss the advantages of digital ink

What is digital inking?

First things first. How to write in digital document? How to create digital ink? MS OneNote and recently Edge allow to annotate. Drawing with a mouse isn't that easy though. So it is very interesting to use a digital pen. The Pro Pen which comes with the Surface is presure sensitive and works like a charm! It allows to draw, make selections, erase and activate OneNote on your Surface. And it is very easy which was proven by my 4 year old son who didn't need more than 1 minute to start colorizing drawings. 

Handwriting helps you learn more

Typing is fast. Handwriting is slow.

Weirdly, that's precisely why handwriting is better suited to learning. Research psychologists Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer did a fascinating study investigating just how terrible laptops are for note-taking in classrooms: http://pss.sagepub.com/content/25/6/1159

Handwriting is better because it slows the learner down. 

By slowing down the process of taking notes, you accelerate learning. If a skilled typist is sitting in a classroom, he or she will be able write down almost every word that the lecturer utters.

The thing is, that transcription process doesn't require any critical thinking. So while you're putting the words down on the page, your brain doesn't have to engage with the material.But if you are taking notes by hand, you won't be able to write down every word the speaker says. Instead, you'll have to look for representative quotes, which slows you down.


How can digital ink be useful in education?

A: replacing the blackboard

I use OneNote to create digital textbooks. In my document, I sometimes create pages in which I create schemes, sketches, etc. 5 years ago several students were taking pictures of my notes on the blackboard. This made me realize something had to change. I started to use OneNote and made the same notes using a digital pen on a Surface. 

blackboard versus OneNote: digital inking

Benefits of digital ink: 

  1. Able to save and reuse the notes in other classes, years and able to share via email, cloud or shared documents.
  2. The notes are scalable and movable
  3. The notes are clear, there is more contrast (on a white background) and easier to erase.
  4. No more chalk dust(er).
  5. Able to use color and background pictures


B: using digital ink to correct homework

Using a digital pen, you're able to correct homework or assignments. The student can even get live feedback in a shared OneNote document. 


C: Annotating while creating screencasts

New tools like Office MixSnip and Edge browser allow annotating while creating screencasts or saving notes on a webpage. These annotations will bring clarity and more focus on the subject.


D: Brainstorming on a whiteboard

I never used the whiteboard while during remote lessons (distance learning via Skype for Business) until I took a Master course at Sheffield-Hallam university in which we used whiteboards to brainstorm. Using the whiteboard allows students to be involved, organize thoughts and to brainstorm.  

Why describing a subject using complex definitions when you can clarify with a single stroke of the pen?

E: Highlighting subjects while creating courseware

While creating courseware, the pen can be interesting to highlight some parts in the text or images. Thinking about Biology. Why describing the leaf edge in words when you can clarify with a single stroke of the pen. 



Well, I rest my case. The handwriting will not disappear. And in striving for a paperless classroom, the digital pen offers so much benefits. 

If you are interested on the impact of the pen, check the publications of Pam Mueller and the website of WIPTTE

Surface Pro Pen


© pln.education - Part of Zelfstudie.be, by Koen Timmers - Alle rechten voorbehouden