17 May 2017
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Digital Inking could drive digital thinking

By Matthew Bain

Tactile and versatile is our old friend the pen. Notoriously mightier than that sword and, though a little prone to smudging, is arguably one of the greatest tools the human race produced.

Epic poems, literature, revolutions, policies and, importantly, schoolwork owe a lot to the humble pen. So, with a mass migration to digital, one wouldn’t be alone in missing the freedom of ink.

Many devices have incorporated this need for ink expression into their interfaces. Hand gestures, stylus and touchscreen tech can bring the versatility of scribbling on something back to the tech-savvy classroom.

Microsoft recently came across some independent research looking into digital inking, and how it can affect learning outcomes.

Sharon Oviatt, an expert in human-centered interfaces has put out this infographic looking into the effects of digital inking.

Her research found that inking enabled teachers to be more productive with their time. With respondents reporting that inking reduced both a number of physical resources they produced and the time it took to mark and give feedback on student work.

Teachers involved in the research also said with the increased ease of feedback in class, student work was also lifted. 88% teachers said using inking to give feedback improved the quality of instruction and work in class.

Combining digital technologies with human, ergonomic interaction is a recipe for innovation and it will be interesting to see where it could take education.

Microsoft’s Sam McNeill has taken their digital inking offerings into classrooms around New Zealand and says he met a similar response.

McNeill says there was particular interest in the Ink Replay ability of Office365. Being able to show students how you progressed through a process, or in giving feedback, gives the learner more insight.

Picture a real-time animation of an educator going through student work and annotating it, this enables another level to the feedback given. This functionality could enable educators to give their students more than ticks and crosses, but diagrams and notes and links to resources and more.

It will be interesting to see how more targeted education gestures and digital inking technologies start to interact with classrooms in New Zealand.

Any educators using Replay in Office365 or any digital inking techniques, get in touch and share how it works in your classroom.

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