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I would like to start recording mathematics lectures for students to watch on their own time.
I need to find a device that allows me to write out the lecture with a stylus and import it to a computer.
I suppose I could buy an iPad or something close to it. But, that would be a bit of money. I am looking at a Wacom Bamboo Splash. The problem here is that the writing area seems very small (the class is a math class).

  • What is a good device for writing out lectures to a computer?
  • Is there a device that makes this work best and is not hundreds of dollars?
  • As I understand it, you want to film your lecture - i.e. you talking to camera/audience while also making a digital copy of what you are writing - e.g. equations that you would normally write on a blackboard. Is that right? – Nicholas Aug 15 '12 at 14:37
  • I am also a bit confused as to what exactly you want to do: why not directly making a video of you, reading your slides? What do you want to write with the stylus? – user102 Aug 15 '12 at 14:54
  • I edited the question. I am mainly interested in making a digital copy of my writing. I am unsure whether I will be able to film things via camera. – Joe Johnson 126 Aug 15 '12 at 15:12
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    I recommend checking out the Khan Academy FAQ entry on what equipment they use, as their tutorials are probably similar to what you're interested in creating. – eykanal Aug 15 '12 at 19:01
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    I saw a seminar by Claire Mathieu where she uses both: stylus handwriting on slides. To me this is a very good way to maintain a compromise between the quality of the lecture and preserving one's shoulder/arm... – Sylvain Peyronnet Apr 6 '13 at 23:07
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If your department has a document camera, especially a newer model, then you could use that. I currently use a document camera for my regular lectures. I write on the paper under the camera, the camera sends it to the computer and the computer sends it to a projector, where it gets projected onto the big screen in the lecture hall. This way I can look at my class the class the entire time and I do not have to worry about whether students in the back can read the writing on the whiteboard in front.

The document camera I use can also be set up to display the images it captures on the computer. Then, with video capture software, (CamStudio is an example of one with a free option), you could record a video as you write.

If your department does not have a document camera, you can set up something similar with a webcam, which would be cheaper to buy but produces lower video quality. Set it to look down on the paper. You write your lecture, and the computer records it. Alternatively, your institution may have an instructional technology office that could loan you a document camera (or may even have a more advanced set up).

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What about using some kind of screen recorder that also do editing?

I find BB FlashBack Express, Wink and this to be good ones.

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We went this path heavily some years ago with the Italian Math Olympiad organizing committee. (you can see some of our lectures, in Italian, on http://olimpiadi.dm.unibo.it/videolezioni/).

You will obtain the best results with a tablet pc with a Wacom active digitizer. The quality of the pen writing cannot be matched by iPads and the like. Unfortunately, that is a toy that does cost hundreds of dollars. You may get a used one off eBay for cheaper. I never used one, but I heard that the HP Touchsmart TM2 was one of the most appreciated models in the past years, and now it should be quite cheap to get one.

There is no cheaper option, as far as I know, that will provide the same overall quality. Graphic tablets such as the one you are considering are a reasonable substitute, but, apart from the size issue, they have a higher learning curve (since you have to learn to watch in point A and write in point B --- no problem after some training if you are the one teaching, but this will prevent you from asking the students to solve exercises in a class, for instance).

Forget about iPads and anything that does not have an active digitizer --- the writing quality will simply not be sufficient for your needs.

EDIT: clarification: I wrote "we" but I am just one member of the project and only a few of those lectures are mine.

  • I just had a look at one your videos, and I was wondering why you don't directly write the lecture in Latex? and then present the slides during the lecture? Is there an actual gain with writing the lecture in "real-time"? – user102 Aug 15 '12 at 14:59
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    This would need more preparation work before the lecture and would leave you much less flexible about what to explain and add to the lecture on-the-spot. Moreover, it is my opinion that it is easier to follow someone writing on a blackboard/tablet rather than reading slides: you can hear their comments while they write, infer things from the order in which they write, and you have some dead time to re-check things and catch up. – Federico Poloni Aug 15 '12 at 21:50
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    @user102: students absorb material much better by seeing it written out in "real time" than by having material already existing on slides. Also: when posting things like equations on slides, people tend to rush through them, which is prevented by writing at a natural pace. – Raghu Parthasarathy Nov 20 '16 at 22:51
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Yes, by all means use a Wacom (any device). You need screen capturing s/w and audio capturing. You can then post the video afterwards (which will just be the computer screen, and your voice talking over it).

Windows:

  • Use OneNote for your notes + Camtasia for audio/video capturing. You might also use an external MP3 recorder for sound if your PC mic is not good and then blend them yourself after (more tedious).

Mac:

  • I use a series of Pixelmator images for "writing" math on a Mac. Create a 4096x4096 image gives you a fairly large canvas. A new page can be added by adding a new "layer". To record what you're doing, if you combine SoundFlower + QuickTime you can have screen+audio recording (see youtube for videos on how)

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