Reading, writing and R&D: New York teachers and students beta test Logitech’s new computer stylus — and their ideas are shaping a new product for the classroom

Patch News

March 13, 2022

As schools across the country raced to get digital devices into students’ hands during the pandemic, the use of Chromebooks has skyrocketed. With around 40 million of these touchscreen laptops and tablets running the streamlined Chrome OS — more than 15 million purchased in the last year alone — COVID-19 has accelerated student engagement with technology.

K-12 students use the Chromebook to manage nearly every aspect of school, from completing homework to taking notes to researching. But kids often struggle to write on the screen with their finger, and many stylus products — pen-like devices, often with a rubber tip for writing on a touchscreen — just aren’t enough. durable.

Logitech, an independent consumer electronics company, felt the need to create a stylus that was sturdier and easier to use. And when designing its new Logitech stylus, the company incorporated feedback from real-life students — about size, comfort, and most importantly, shape.

Most of the contributions came from about 100 K-12 children at Panama Central School in western New York. Fifth-grade math teacher Pamela Warner had met a Logitech education researcher at a conference and was soon at the forefront of beta testing the new stylus.

“It was something that was new to me,” Warner says. “I’ve never been part of research and development and prototyping and the stuff you read. It was exciting for me and exciting for my kids. If that’s something that can benefit my students, that worth my time and energy, so let’s go. It was a really fun experience.”

Not only did Warner students participate in the tests, but she brought various types of 3D-printed prototypes to multi-level classrooms, giving the pens a try and taking the opportunity to teach lessons about private sector companies. . “We always talk about how we can bring real-world experiences to our kids,” she says. This is exactly what Logitech did as the most important test group.

Finding a product that worked “really made it easy for students to transition from paper and pencil to digital,” she says. “Their work was much clearer, they felt more confident in their work.”

An eighth grade student named Brooke says she uses a stylus every time she writes or draws. “Before I had a stylus to use, I used to write with my finger,” she says. “It was very difficult for me and my handwriting wasn’t very clear. The stylus made digital work a lot easier for me. My math work was very clear and drawing in my spare time was so much fun.”

It was fun to test,” says sixth-grade student Alex. “It was fun trying out the different prototypes that were donated and providing feedback for the final design.

During the tests, Warner gave the students exercises in drawing shapes and writing, then asked them to answer questions and give their opinion on which of the three prototypes they preferred. In total, about 100 students aged 7 to 18 participated, about one-fifth of the school population.

Warner says the students took their role seriously. “There were no gaffes,” she says. “There was definitely that level of commitment and excitement.”

The final Logitech pen, which debuted Jan. 18 for shipment in April, features a student-favorite triangle shape. There’s no button to press to turn the pen on, and it automatically connects to USI-enabled Chromebooks with no pairing required, enabling student collaboration or pen sharing. The water-resistant pen comes with a three-year warranty and has a damage-resistant plastic nib that can be removed with pliers for replacement. The battery lasts 15 days of normal school use on a single charge and can be recharged with the same cord students use for their Chromebooks. Every aspect – including 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing students to create lines or characters more clearly than with a finger or rubber-tipped stylus – was designed for the school environment. And it comes in yellow, like a traditional pencil.

The triangular shape was piloted not only by ergonomic experts, but also by children. “In speaking with representatives from Logitech, they said it was really student feedback that helped determine the shape,” Warner explains. “Younger elementary students said it was more beneficial to them and made it easier for them to hold. It fit better in their hands, they didn’t slip in it and it felt more natural. Looking at the data, a good majority of my students chose the triangle.”

“We worked very early on with the students on fit, shape and size to understand what the different needs were from the student’s point of view and from the teacher’s point of view,” says Gaurav Bradoo, head of the Logitech for Education portfolio. “That got us to, ‘How can we make this the most comfortable stylus possible? Student feedback also made it clear how the stylus would fit in their hands, leading the designers to incorporate a non-slip silicone grip that extended further. than originally intended to accommodate the different ways students held the device.

“It was a super fun experience for me as an adult to bring real-world experience to students,” Warner said. “We’re just a small, rural school in western New York—the people of Buffalo don’t even know where we are—and we help make decisions that will affect students and teachers around the world.”

The 74 million is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news site that covers the challenges and opportunities of raising America’s 74 million children.