Innovative Practices Spotlight

CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight


Dr. Lewis Shoemaker, Professor, Mathematics

The Center for Academic Excellence is recognizing a faculty member every month in the CAE Innovative Practices Spotlight to highlight his or her innovative classroom practices and outstanding contribution to Millersville University.

Dr. Lewis Shoemaker is being recognized for his exceptional use of Smart Pens in his Mathematics courses!

Please continue reading to learn more about Dr. Shoemaker's exciting experience and to learn ways to incorporate innovative practices into your classroom…

1. What innovative practice did you incorporate into your classroom?

I started recording lectures in front of a live class using the Livescribe Smartpen in order to offer an online version of some of our elementary Statistics courses and record lectures for special needs students in my face to face courses. I then started using MyStatLab as a delivery vehicle for those lectures as well as for online homework assignments. The Smartpen records everything you say and write. The only software that the student needs is Adobe Reader which is standard and free on PCs and Macs.

2. When did you implement the new practice into your classroom?

I started  using the Smartpens in the Spring semester of 2012 in Math 130 and Math 235.

3. Did the students willingly accept the use of the new practice? What were the reactions of the students?

Students were very impressed with the results. The nice thing about the Smartpen is that  you can explain things to the students while you write. In mathematics, we have a lot of special characters. You can easily write those characters, draw diagrams, and explain simultaneously in front of a live audience while everything is being recorded.

4. How has the use of the new practice positively affected the classroom learning environment?

Because I record the lectures in front of a live class, the online students have the benefit of hearing questions and answers raised by the class and myself. They get written and verbal responses. It is about as close as you can get to being in the face to face class itself. I also never miss a class due to snow days since I simply record the lecture at home and send it to the students via email. They get the audio lecture plus notes. Sometimes a student will email a complex question that requires a complex answer with special characters, diagrams, and an explanation. This is easily solved with the Smartpen and email.

5. How has the use of the new practice affected student engagement in the classroom and the level of participation?

One nice advantage of the Smartpen is that if a student misses something while going through the lecture, it is a simple  matter of clicking the mouse pointer anywhere on the notes and hearing it again. This has also helped the special needs students in my face to face classes. They no longer need note takers. They get the lecture notes and audio directly from the professor.

6. What challenges did you encounter when you were implementing the new practice?

You can’t erase with a Smartpen. Hence, you need to be careful and not make too many mistakes. The only thing you can do is cross out your mistakes. There is also a difference between Macs and PCs when students access the Smartpen notes. With PC’s, the student simple clicks on the file and clicks on the notes. With Macs, the students must first download the file and then right click “open with” Adobe Reader in order to hear the audio.

7. How did attending Camp IDEA or a CAE Professional Development session contribute to your learning and use of the innovative practice?

I was introduced to the Smartpen by Jeff Adams in one of the CAE professional development sessions. I realized it’s potential immediately and started planning its use.