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Head of the class: Wacom tablets prove to be invaluable assets in an era of home-based learning.

As the world rallies behind its efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19, there’s no escaping the fact that lifestyles and businesses need to be disrupted for the sake of everyone’s health. But even though schools have closed, learning hasn’t. Today’s technology has enabled both students and teachers to continue on their educational journeys from the safety of their own homes, and we at Wacom are proud to assist them in this move to distance learning.

Through the use of our tablets, teachers here in Singapore have managed to seamlessly transition into their digital classrooms. Four of them share their stories:

One for all

Kai Meng is no stranger to virtual teaching even before the pandemic hit, so he’s had plenty of experience using supplementary tools to host his online classes. But it was ultimately the Wacom One that beat out the competition.

As co-founder of Kainetik Learning Centre and math coach to Primary 4 to Secondary 5 students, Kai Meng needs to host all formats of classes, from one-on-one tutoring to small groups and even large webinars. With large amounts of material to prepare and present, he appreciates the accuracy and smoothness of his stylus. “The digital writing experience is as good as writing on paper,” he says.

Not only is the Wacom One’s 13.3-inch display sufficiently large for Kai Meng’s needs, he appreciates the protective plastic layer placed above the actual screen, as well as the fact that it responds only to the stylus. “Accidental touches by my hand and fingers were a problem when I wrote on my laptop’s touchscreen,” he recalls. “I also like that the stylus isn’t powered by a battery, so that’s one less thing to worry about.”

The Wacom One is also compatible with programs frequently used by teachers, such as Microsoft 365 and the whiteboard functions of online meeting platforms like Zoom, WebinarJam, Lark and Vectera. And because the Wacom One turns on instantly, requiring no extra time to start up, Kai Meng is able to jump right into the lesson.

For the record

Kydon Tay doesn’t just teach math and science to primary school students; he teaches parents how to coach kids in those subjects. And he does this by way of fun and colourful videos he hosts on his Youtube channel, Primary Math and Science with Kydon Tay, and in his private Facebook group.

To annotate his videos, the full-time tutor turns to his trusty Intuos touch tablets. “I use my Wacom tablet every day while teaching my classes, as well as produce my video lessons,” says Kydon. The Intuos range are a series of tablets and pressure-sensitive pens that users can easily connect to a Mac, PC or Android device. Because each tablet comes with three free downloadable software — Corel Painter Essentials 7, Corel Aftershot 3 and Clip Studio Paint Pro — users have access to a range of art and photography-related tools, too.

Its lack of a screen makes the Intuos a budget-friendly, entry level introduction to the world of pen tablets, and those who are nervous about writing without looking at their hands will find it surprisingly easy to get used to thanks to the stylus’ 7mm reading height and extreme sensitivity. “The tablet is smooth and responsive,” concludes Kydon. “I love it!”

Small wonder

Portability is always a welcome asset when it comes to gadgets, and the same holds true for teachers and their numerous teaching aids. Carrie Lai, founder of Roots and Wings Academy tuition group, has long prized the convenience her Intuos S Bluetooth affords.

“Its light and durable structure allows me to carry it around to my tuition classes,” she shares. “Despite having a small frame, I’m able to write with it and teach without hassle.” Indeed, the 7.9 inch-by-6.3 inch tablet makes it compact enough to travel with, and the fact that this is a wireless model further reduces clutter in the bag or on the desk.

The actual drawing area measures 6 inch-by-3.7inch, which is more than enough room to comfortably scribble on. Continues Carrie: “When I first switched from a mouse to a Wacom pen, I realised just how much faster and more efficient it was to write with. The pen feels natural and intuitive, and I’ve never had to look down at the pad.” This can be credited to the Intuos pen’s 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Thanks to home-based learning, tutors like Carrie are able to carry on their duties as educators — which means factors like comfort and build are still features she values in her devices. “I love the matte finish on the pad because it’s less distracting — especially when class is in session — and it doesn’t leave many fingerprint smudges even after a long day of use.”

Art house

The ability of Wacom tablets to mimic the pen-to-paper feel is what makes them a must-have for digital artists like Mohd Zaki Bin Ragman, who brings over 20 years of artistic experience to his current vocation as a lecturer at the MAGES Institute of Excellence, a local game design school. Having worked at companies like Scrawl Studios and Chip & Toons as their Animation Director, as well as being published five times for comics like Badang Badang, Zaki truly understands the importance of good tools.

“Our school has really benefited from the use of Wacom tablets. I’ve been using them to teach classes in Concept Art, Digital Illustration, and more, so I’ve experienced first-hand Wacom’s impeccable sensitivity and accuracy. The way the tablets capture details is simply magical,” he enthuses.

Artists and designers naturally require more functionality, which is why Wacom offers several styluses to choose from, all of which have natural tilt recognition and virtually no lag. On the medium and large sizes of the Intuos Pro, there is even the option of drawing on paper while digitally capturing every stroke using Wacom’s Paper Edition technology and a Wacom Finetip Pen.

It’s a trying time for all of us but that hasn’t stemmed the flow of creativity in Zaki’s students. “The sleek and lightweight tablets are easy for my students to use and keep, which helps in their struggle to create inspired art during this difficult lockdown period.”

This pen is mightier

Teachers everywhere will joke about the comically large number of pens they go through during the course of their careers. But for digital educators like Jeffrey Teo, founder of Ace Your Econs online learning centre, one is enough — as long as it is the Wacom Pro Pen 2.

The Wacom Pro Pen 2 comes packed with the Intuos Pro series, a range that focuses on comfort and durability to better serve the professionals that will be using them. The pen itself also boasts an impressive 8,192 pen pressure levels. “The Intuos Pro M is my main work pad and I rely on it heavily for digital marking,” shares Jeffrey, who coaches junior college economics students. “It is after all a subject that requires a lot of feedback on essays and case studies.”

The Wacom Intuos Pro M has other nifty features such as bluetooth connectivity, customisable ExpressKeys, a Touch Ring and pen side switches, but Jeffrey prefers to keep it simple when he’s on the go, which is why he also keeps an Intuos S handy. “I carry that around for meetings and use it as a portable writing pad. Regardless of model, I highly recommend Wacom tablets because they always provide good value.”

Freedom to teach

Transitioning from an offline business model to an online one can be unnerving, but math tutor Jason Lee was surprised at how simple it was with the right tools. And the tool that started it all was the (now discontinued) Intuos Touch Manga S. Following a push from friend and founder of Chiew Farn Chung to grab a Wacom tablet and dive into the world of online tutoring, Jason did just that in 2016. By 2019, his company, Love To Learn SG, is now completely virtual.

That it was light, compact and sensitive were some of reasons Jason treasured his Intuos, but he was especially impressed with Wacom’s patented technology that made for pens that required no charging. “This is a blessing, as I’ve seen friends who use Surface Pros search high and low in Singapore for AAAA batteries,” he quips. “No such problem for me.” He goes on to praise how Wacom’s pens only recognise the stylus tips, so he can rest his palm anywhere on his tablet without it interfering with his writing. “Many OEM capacitive styluses don’t have this technology, so users have to hold their styluses like chopsticks or Chinese paintbrushes. When I write on my Intuos, it is very natural.”

His only quibble was his tablet’s cable, which just added to the tangled mess of wires on his desk. “So I recently upgraded to an Intuos Pro and it’s been a dream come true.” The bluetooth-enabled Intuos Pro has been tremendously helpful on days with back-to-back lessons. “I can stand up, walk around or lean back in my chair while writing. This newfound comfort and freedom is invaluable now that the Circuit Breaker period has multiplied my workload.”

Though he’s aware of competing brands, Jason puts his trust in Wacom’s expertise. “Writing tablets need to be supported by drivers, which in turn need to be updated as frequently as our operating systems,” he adds. “This is why I would rather invest in a strong brand like Wacom, as they offer a complete package of solid hardware and updated software, and are well worth the money.”

By Charmaine Leong

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