Montana State University

Smart Pens at Montana State

What are they?

Smart Pens let you capture your handwriting and speaking (any audio, actually) at the same time, allowing you to play it back at a later time to watch or just to listen to.
They are ideal for notetaking, audio annotated drawings, and step by step directions that benefit from having an image to refer to or add to. And many more applicatons.

The MSU bookstore stocks smart pens made by Livescribe. The basic Pulse model starts at $100 for 2Gb of memory (captures 200 hours of audio).

Examples of When to Use a Smart Pen

  • Students can use smart pens for taking notes in lectures and playing them back for review.
  • Instructors can present a problem solution, complete with an audio narrative, to their students to view as many times as they need.
  • You can describe a complex process with the use of audio-annotated drawings. Smart pens allow you to click on any part of a page and hear what's going on at that exact moment in the audio.
  • And of course many more applications!

How can I learn more?

YouTube has a review of the Livescribe Pulse smart pen by the folks at Wired magazine:
There is a video of a workshop from an MSU Learning a la Carte session (from January 2011) at:
(the workshop was somewhat interactive with participants so the audio comes and goes, but toward the end there are a few examples.)
You can also go to the Livescribe site ( and check out their example pencasts (