Steve takes a look at the importance of the stylus as a tool for learning and the factors you should consider before buying them. He then shares his views on the new App Pencil and why he thinks it is the best option for the classroom-based iPad user.
I was gifted my first stylus a couple of years ago. I'd never really had a desire to buy one but it soon became something that my class at the time would borrow. I think the use of writing with implements is so natural for us that we can't help but favour it over using our fingers at times. As I see it, there are two main advantages to using a stylus:
- It helps develop fine motor skills associated with non-digital writing - It allows for neater, more precise annotation
This leads to the main issue though - finding a decent stylus that is comfortable to use and actually precise. The majority of styluses out there seem to favour quirky style (ooh, it looks like a piece of wood/guitar pick/spanner) over actual ergonomic design or precision. They can often feel like writing on paper smeared with glue rather than a smooth iPad screen or even just plain old paper!
I have tried some genuinely impressive offerings over the last few years. A buddy of mine got the first iteration of the Adonit type stylus – those ones with the clear plastic disc at the nib that definitely made it more precise. It was very pricey though and would be easily broken in the wrong hands. I got a solid aluminium one too that was definitely robust if a little chunky (especially for the kids who tried it.) The brush one I had was fun too but was soon damaged.
In fact this highlights two additional issues for educators who are looking for a stylus to use in the classroom setting:
So let’s recap – there seem to be FOUR key factors in play here. We want a stylus that’s easy on the (smaller) hand, relatively cheap, precise and not easily broken or damaged (or lost!)
Not too much to ask is it?
I recently got to try out a new offering from Australian company EduGrip called the App Pencil. Ostensibly the first stylus aimed directly at the educational market, this caught my attention straight away as it had clearly been developed with young learners as the demographic. When I tried it, it soon became clear that this was exactly what I’d been looking for. Let me explain how the App Pencil fares in each of those four key areas:
GRIP AND DESIGN
The design of the body is triangular making it easy for little hands to grip. The soft rubber texture also benefits this greatly. It seems to take some of its inspiration from those special triangular grips that can really benefit emerging writers, SEN students and left-handers in particular.
The rubber covering means it can be dropped and not damaged. The solid tip means it won’t suffer the inevitable fate of the disc-headed stylus. The inclusion of a simple loop at the back end also means it can be tied to bags/cases or even hung round necks (school trips?) so the odds of just plain losing it are reduced too.
Ok it’s not one of the plastic disc crew which naturally take the edge in terms of precision but it is definitely more precise than the pretty much every other rubber tipped stylus I’ve tried. Definitely good enough for kids to make simple annotations.
Priced at little more than $10 USD the price really is fantastic. IF you contact Kelvin at EduGrip he will even sort out bulk discounts for schools looking to purchase sets. Tell him Steve at iPad Educators sent you! :)
Quite simply, the App Pencil ticks every box and I genuinely recommend it as the number one choice for iPad users in the classroom. You can find out even more about them at the EduGrip website or via their Facebook page.
If I could just get my class to let me have mine back…
Steve Site founder
One last thing before I wrap up that was just too funky not to share...