I just learned from Technet, a Czech sci-tech server, about the Livescribe Smartpen – something I've never seen before even though it has already arrived to the Czech market.
It's kind of cool. I feel that many students may want to buy such a gadget, it starts at $100 or so. The product on the left is more expensive because it has more memory.
It is an intelligent pen that allows you to draw a calculator or a piano and play it or compute with it. You may write "Hello beer" and it easily translates it (in audio) as "Hola Cerveza" to Spanish. ;-) However, most importantly, it is a tape recorder that is able to synchronize the recorded sound with the notes on the paper.
The gadget may remember thousands of pages of notes and almost a thousand of hours of sound.
A condition is that you must write all your notes to special paper notebooks that have lots of unique codes printed over them, something like barcodes, that allow the pen to identify the page as well as a point on the page rather accurately and reliably.
So you write some notes and when you're rereading them, you discover an equation you can't understand. What the hell was the instructor talking about? You point your Smartpen at the equation and it will replay for you what the instructor was talking about.
There are lots of new technologies that could supersede and improve the old methods of learning. Some of them are pretty cheap. For example, this universal pen is as expensive as a single expensive textbook. But it may be used everywhere. It's surprising that the society hasn't made a more significant progress in the way how these new technologies are used in education.
Next week, Microsoft is also releasing Microsoft Surface, its iPad competitor. Samsung is releasing its Samsung Chromebook, starting at $250 (video).