using a Smartpen to interview

Well, time has ticked on since my last blog post – the weeks are flying and I am struggling at times to fit in full-time work and study. However, I have gotten all my information letters and consent forms finished and in the post, so I’m hoping all my potential participants will agree to be part of my study and will return their consent forms relatively quickly. I need to go to Western Australia to conduct my data collection and that’s becoming difficult to fit in with the work schedule as well. However, I’m hoping to get this organised within the next couple of months.

One thing I am doing at work at the moment is conducting interviews with O&M Specialists so they can upgrade their qualifications via the RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning) process to a higher level qualification. This has given me the opportunity to practice conducting interviews using my Pulse Smartpen. I have had this fabulous piece of technology for about 18 months now but have not really used it that much until recently. I always had in my mind that it would be an excellent tool for conducting my research and my recent experiences have confirmed that.

The Smartpen works by recording audio as you talk, and also capturing the notes you are writing via an infrared camera near the tip of the pen. Notes are recorded on ‘dot paper’ – I have no idea how that works but I received three dot paper notebooks with my pen and they are priced pretty much the same as a regular notebook. What I LOVE about the Smartpen is that you can tap the pen on a word you have written when note taking, and it will immediately start playing what was being said when you wrote down that word. For going back over interviews, this is fantastic. I have been practicing how many notes I have to take when interviewing, and have found this feature to be just invaluable when transcribing or reviewing interviews.

I have also set up a Livescribe “pencasts” page – the Smartpen comes with a USB docking station and both your notes and your audio can be uploaded to the internet and shared with others if you wish. There are a number of other features, such as the ability to download apps to the pen.

I am really looking forward to using this in my research.  I think it will be very unobtrusive and far easier to use than a tape recorder. As with all things tech, since I purchased my Pulse Smartpen, a newer version has been released  – the Echo Smartpen – with twice as much memory (4GB or 8GB) and at a much cheaper price!  But you get that!!

As I get into the data collection phase of my research in the next few months, I’ll report back on how using the Smartpen goes. If you want to read more about the Smartpen, have a look at Livescribe’s webpage which I’ve linked to under ‘research tools’.

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One thought on “using a Smartpen to interview

  1. Pingback: Interviewing and transcribing…. | a journey to independence

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