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Online Teaching with 'Epic Pen' (a screen annotation tool)

When it comes to web-based teaching boards, I have mostly heard names like Microsoft Whiteboard and Google Jamboard. However, I never kept those brand names in my universe as I wanted simple yet powerful utilities for my online teaching practice.

I also tried to use my phone as a secondary camera to feed the organic live handwriting while I was teaching. Those phone cameras lagged significantly which resulted in reducing the quality of teaching. Then I became thoughtful one day and wanted to decide my 'signature' approach to teaching online.

online teaching with pic pen

Surprisingly, I came across the free version of Epic Pen software which would virtually lay a transparent layer over our screen on which we write freely using the utilities provided in the freeware.

I imagined using PowerPoint slides which would have ample white background that can be used as free writing space; and yes, putting a transparent layer over it. I do not mean (and did not want to) making the heavy writing on the file itself.

What is Epic Pen?

Epic Pen is simple, lightweight, and free software that enables you to freely annotate over the window(s) of your screen without needing to have any extra online accounts and other software.

Just download the software, install it, get a vertical bar as GUI (graphical user interface) of the software, drag it to a corner of your convenience, select the options, and make your screen a board instantly.

Whatever you annotate over the window(s) of the screen gets shared with your class if you are streaming your whole screen (remember - not one specific window) using any tool (Google Meet, Zoom, MS Teams, or any !).

What are the basic tools in the Free Version of Epic Pen?

The basic tools in the free version of Epic Pen are a pen and a highlighter. The software also has functions like taking screenshots, color palette, tool size, undo, erase, and clear the screen at once.

Epic Pen makes a perfect combination with flipbooks as it does with slides or blank pages.

During my classes, the vertical UI (User Interface) of the software is basically dragged towards the right corner. The one-column UI of Epic Pen consists of selected icons in each row.

The 'eye icon' minimizes the UI to a minimal size, deactivates its tools and functions, and hides whatever has been annotated on the screen. I click this icon when I actually need the students to focus on the slides or any material other than my handwriting.

I can later click the same 'eye icon' to reintroduce the writing layer, tools and functions, and the Epic Pen UI itself. The 'cursor icon' can be clicked to stop any tool or function of the Epic Pen UI and activate it to work on the window(s) beneath it.

Epic Pen is found as a Pro version or Paid version. You just need to buy a license key to activate the Pro version of the software that you have installed on your device.

The tools with an asterisk (*) such as rectangles and circles, text tools, lines and arrows, whiteboard, and blackboard are available under the Pro (paid) plan. (Source: Epic Pen)

Where to Get Epic Pen?

Please click here to access the authentic page to download Epic Pen for Windows or Mac OS.

How to Install Epic Pen?

Use this page to download the .exe file that can be executed to install the Epic Pen software on your Windows PC. You can use the Mac app store to install Epic Pen on your Apple PCs that run Mac OS.

How to Use Epic Pen for Online Teaching?

You can use a blank page between the slides, or blank space on the slide to annotate while teaching. You can also annotate the blank spaces on the pages of the flipbooks that you use while teaching.

You are not going to make the resources messy. Epic Pen is all about putting a transparent layer on which you write and keep the teaching resource lightweight and original.

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