TPS classes are interactive and often involve writing on the whiteboard in class. In math classes this requires either a pen tablet input or a touch-screen with a stylus. In other courses the pen or stylus is handy but not required. Assignments generally do not require use of a pen tablet or stylus because they can be done on paper and submitted as a PDF scan using a smart phone or tablet (or desktop scanner).iPad or Android
Though the browser GP7 has been tested to work on Android and iOS devices, TPS provides only limited support for tablets (because the screens are generally too small for a good class experience, and because there are so many different models and operating system variants) and no support for phones (because the screens are too small for taking live classes). In a course (e.g., math) where there may be a lot of writing on the whiteboard, we recommend against trying to use an iPad or Android tablet in place of a pen tablet attached to a computer. For other more limited whiteboard uses, the iPad or Android with a stylus could work, but TPS provides limited support for those devices.How about a touch-screen notebook (Windows or MacOS) or Chromebook with a stylus?
These can work well, particularly for newer models because the screen writing has improved significantly. It helps if the physical screen size is not too small, the notebook folds to a flat tablet, and you have a stylus for precise writing. If you have a good notebook computer with a stylus, you should not need a separate pen tablet (and you can ignore the rest of this page).Pen Tablet Brand and Model Recommendations
A pen tablet input device costs under US$80 for a basic model that works for online classes. For ease of setup and use of the separate pen tablet, consider the Wacom brand of pen tablets, particularly the One by Wacom
. Wacom tablets have a feature that is helpful for Windows users, in that it allows you to turn off Windows Ink to make legible writing easier. The One by Wacom pen tablet is also currently the only pen input tablet that works with Chromebook
(and Windows and Mac), and is also the most affordable model in the Wacom line.
Other companies make acceptable pen tablets as well, and price is often a good indicator of performance. Huion
makes a more affordable (compared with Wacom, the industry standard) line of pen tablet input devices that work well for TPS courses.The XP-Pen StarG640
is even more affordable and works OK, but it is less legible and less reliable. Both of these alternative lines allow turning off Windows Ink, but neither works with Chromebook.Size
When choosing a pen tablet, please consider that a larger tablet is easier to write legibly on, but takes up more desk space and costs more. A small (4x6 ish) model is sufficient (and is what many teachers use), but takes more practice than a mid-sized (5x8 ish) model, which costs more and takes more desk space. Either is suitable, and families should choose what best meets their needs and constraints.Wireless?
Wireless (bluetooth) pen input tablets are harder to keep working reliably, and do not write as legibly. They are also more expensive. Choose a USB wired tablet, unless you are just adventurous.Setup
To use the tablet with the whiteboard:
- The Windows Ink function can interfere with the pen in GP7, making it hard to write in small areas. The Wacom tablets have a setting to fix this issue. With a Wacom tablet, use the tablet settings Mapping tab to uncheck the Use Windows Ink setting.
- Make sure you are using the latest driver for your tablet. Check the vendor site for an update.
- Maximize your Whiteboard drawing area on your screen.
- (Optional) In your Tablet setup, map the tablet active area to the whiteboard active area in width. This way you can write most legibly across the entire width of the whiteboard. You can scroll the whiteboard as needed to change the vertical work area.
- When you are writing or drawing, keep your eyes on the Whiteboard rather than the tablet. You will find this improves your accuracy considerably.
This approach allows you to use a standard size pen tablet to write legibly on the whiteboard slide, to write freehand short notes or work math problems or do any other homework assignment or exam.