This module models the UDL Principles of Representation and Action & Expression.

Utilizing Livescribe Smartpens

Capturing Information to Increase Representation, Expression, and Engagement


Contributing Faculty

Mr. Timm Hackett

Mr. Timm Hackett
East Carolina University

Dr. Leonard Trujillo

Dr. Leonard Trujillo
Occupational Therapy
East Carolina University


The Livescribe™ smartpen is a technology tool used to provide linked auditory and visual information in a linear or nonlinear format. At this time, the Livescribe™ pen is the only smartpen that synchronizes written notes with recorded audio. Livescribe™ smartpens were developed to be used by note takers, such as students, who wish to audio record lectures which correspond to their handwritten class notes. Professors Leonard Trujillo and Timm Hackett use this technology for instructional purposes in their postsecondary classes.

Mr. Timm Hackett, an East Carolina University English instructor, initially chose to use this technology because he felt it was the most easily accessed high-tech tool he could use that would allow him to move beyond podcasts and offer him the ability to provide linked auditory and visual information in files called pencasts to students, especially his distance-education students. One distance-education student remarked that Hackett’s voice was the first instructor’s voice that he had heard in his two years as an online student. Some students prefer visual representation of information, while others prefer auditory information. Hackett says that with the Livescribe™ smartpen, “Students could listen to the audio, but they could have written notes—like I was writing on a chalkboard in a face-to-face class. Universally, it’s been the most well-received technology that I’ve implemented in a course—better than my website, better than a podcast, better than the mobile website I have.” While Mr. Hackett began using the Livescribe™ smartpen for convenience, he has continued to incorporate it even more extensively in his classes because his students request it.

Dr. Leonard Trujillo, an ECU professor of Occupational Therapy, uses the Livescribe™ smartpen because of its simplicity of use and the fact that it isn’t obviously different from other pens Thus, it can be used discreetly. Students can use the Livescribe™ smartpen for taking notes in class, capturing the audio of the instructor’s comments and linking it to their notes as described in the Instructional Practice section of the module. A student can later review the class, listening to any subsection of the lecture or discussion. In his role as an instructor, Dr. Trujillo views the Livescribe™ smartpen as a normal part of his briefcase package—laptop, pen, and paper. He can create pencasts and distribute them with ease for student learning, while keeping them private for his students. As the chairman of his department, he is a busy person who also appreciates the support the Livescribe™ smartpen offers. He can quickly jot a note and audio record an idea he wants to remember for later consideration. This simplicity of use is important.

This module provides details on the many ways Livescribe™ smartpens can be used. Their use reflects the principles of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework and its support for using new technology to meet the needs of diverse learners.

Module Format

Each of the College STAR modules includes a concept map, giving readers an overview of a module's content. The concept maps show the links between the instructional practice in the module, possible outcomes, and the principles of Universal Design for Learning, known as UDL.

Figure 1, the concept map shown below, illustrates the instructional practice in this module, which is about utilizing Livescribe™ smartpens. Students use Livescribe™ smartpens to take written notes that are linked to the audio that the smartpen records during class, which can be reviewed multiple times. The ECU faculty, who contributed to this module, use Livescribe™ smartpens to create presentations for online classes or to create electronic flash cards for students via pencasts. They also provide precise written and oral feedback on student electronic documents using embedded pencasts. Assigning students to create pencasts can be an alternate format for assessing understanding and the opportunity for a student to present information in a new way. Some of the advantages of these uses for Livescribe™ include increasing instructional time, decreasing grading time, increasing student interaction with content, offering an alternate assessment option, and increasing options for accessing information.

Clicking on the concept map, Figure 1, will enlarge the image.

Utilizing Livescribe™ Smartpens Module Concept Map.

Module Navigation

There are multiple ways to navigate College STAR modules. Clicking on the sidebar menu takes you directly to the main sections and subsections of the module.

Navigation features located at the top and bottom of each screen allow you to move through the module. Clicking on the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the module screen takes you directly to previously viewed parts of the module, as shown below in Figure 2 in the example from the Charting Student Information module.

Figure 2: A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page. A "breadcrumb trail" is located below the title of each page.

The navigation arrows at the bottom of each screen take you to the previous or next components of the module. The menu link at the bottom of each screen takes you to the top of the screen where you may view the menu sidebar as shown in Figure 3 below.

Figure 3: Navigation links are also located at the bottom of each page of a module.

Additionally, some links within the text lead to other sections of the module. Please use your preferred method of navigation to proceed to the next section about Universal Design for Learning (UDL).