Maryellen Smolka (CSI), Nicole Dory (CSI) and Jill Roter (Lehman College) present at the AHEAD Conference in Seattle, WA.

When the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at the College of Staten Island learned of new technology that was relatively inexpensive and could have a real impact on students, Director Chris Cruz Cullari seized the opportunity. Responding to a need from many students with disabilities, ODS implemented the Digital Smartpen Project last year, and the project continues to grow.

The LiveScribe Pulse Digital Smartpen records what the user hears and writes and links the recording to the written notes in a specialized notebook. Notes can be played back using the Pen or uploaded for use on a computer. This device can certainly be utilized by any student, however ODS has identified it as a tool that is particularly useful for students who are visually impaired or have a learning disability.

It was quickly realized that simply distributing the Pens (about 15 are now available for loan) would not suffice. Student support was needed when learning and utilizing the new technology, and the Digital Smartpen Mentoring Program was launched. By providing not only Pens, but now, mentors well versed in the Pen’s functionality, the ODS was able to train and empower students using the LiveScribe Pens.

This program was selected by the Association on Higher Education And Disability (AHEAD) to present at the organization’s prestigious annual conference last July in Seattle, WA. ODS staff presented “Digital Smartpens: Enhancing Success by Integrating Technology and Fostering Community and Academic Achievement,” a PowerPoint that guides participants through the use of the Pen and the collaboration that has been established between ODS, Technology Systems, “Pen mentors,” and students on the CSI campus.

Using the most innovative technology to improve student success continues to be a priority of CSI, and the digital pens for students with the supporting technology-driven mentoring program was funded from the Office of the Vice President for Technology Systems.

“We realized the importance of implementing new technology. However, we also recognized the frustration that students would face if they could not properly use the Pens. The Pen Mentor Program has worked very well for them, and we are very proud to present the collaborative project at AHEAD,” noted Cruz Cullari.

The Office of Disability Services is a part of the Division of Student Affairs. For more information regarding the diverse and comprehensive services available to CSI students, please visit the Student Affairs website.