What is it? Wacom’s line of digital drawing tablets vary in size and functionally, but they are devices that essentially let users plug into a computer and draw on the screen. The drawing tablet works with creative or design software, allowing the user to actually draw instead of using a mouse or other input method. The tablets work with programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter.
How does it work? The tablets plug into any relatively current Mac or Windows-based PC through a USB port. The device is largely controlled using a battery-free, cordless stylus that sort of looks like a nice pen. The pen/tablet combination is designed to mimic the feel of actually putting a pen to paper.
How hard is it to use? If you know how to draw on a piece of paper, you know how to use a Wacom Drawing Tablet. Any child old enough to hold a pen can use the device.
How well does it work? The device works very well with compatible programs. That’s a long list, including a number of free apps Wacom makes available on its Web site (wacom.com). There are, however, likely to be some programs that will not integrate well with the tablet.
How do I use it in the classroom? Some kids do better using a computer than they do using more traditional methods. The drawing tablet allows you to make what used to be solely a “pen and paper” experience and turn it electronic. The device would also allow you to “mark up” documents, much the way John Madden would on an NFL telecast using the telestrator. A Wacom drawing tablet, at a cost of $99 and up, would be a fun addition to any classroom. The product actually makes some design programs more useful, as there are things you can create freehand that can’t really be reproduced using a mouse.
Read about other products featured in the Tech in the Classroom series.
Tech in the Classroom is a recurring feature that examines widely available technology, software and gadgets and how they might be used in a school setting.