Unlike a tablet for online teaching using some sort of app like Palfish or Cambly, a digital writing pad with pen is sort of like a tablet expect the focus is much more on design, diagrams and writing. If your any sort of math teacher, science teacher or you teach online and want to use pen to circle or write annotations, a writing pad is a useful addition to your online classroom.
With it, you can record yourself online using your webcam and Zoom while writing with the digital pad on your your laptop screen. Think of it as a way to transform your desktop or laptop into a touch screen. If you are a teacher, then you need to be on the lookout for new technology that will help make your job easier.
Let’s take a look at the best writing and drawing tablet options for teachers.
What to look for in a pen tablet for desktops and laptops
There are few things to pay attention to when looking to get a graphics drawing tablet to extend the functionality of your laptop beyond using a simple mouse and key.
With a drawing tablet, you are typically looking for something that is lightweight and portable so that it will not take up too much space on your desk. You also want something that is quick to install and compatible with multiple devices.
Helpful shortcuts and gestures
Writing tablets should come with the ability to set specific shortcuts which enable you to speed up your workflow. We found the most helpful shortcuts to be an undo button obviously for mistakes, a before and after button so you can delete something and have it come back and the ability to change the pen size.
Responsive pen that’s not battery powered
Some high quality styluses need their own independent battery but we still love all in one tablet and pen solutions that charge together. We also care about how responsive and tactile the actual writing and drawing experience is.
For teachers, we need affordable solutions that are good enough. We’re not digital artists who need extreme control. Last, please note that graphic tablets are not the same as touch screen tablets. They differ in that resistive touch screens for writing, and the capacitive touch screen like on your mobile phone.
Important: Drawing Tablets vs Writing Tablets
While you can use both tablets in the same way in that you can connect them to your laptop or desktop, please note that there are some important differences between the two.
First, you can easily see the difference between a drawing tablet and graphics tablet simply by looking at it. Graphics tablets have their own screen, while writing tablets require an external screens to view your work in real time.
Both can connect to an external device so it’s totally up to your budget and personal preference. Basic writing tablets are cheap and easy to use, but drawing tablets are full featured. Personally we tried out both and prefer the tactile functions of writing tablets that don’t have a screen.
The best overall graphics and writing tablets for teachers
So here are the tablets we found most helpful for the online teacher. Be it math class, drawing diagrams or simply teaching online with VIPKID and wanting more functionality than your keyboard and mouse:
- Wacom Intuos
- XP Pen
- One by Wacom
- Intuos Pro
- Huion Pro
- Cintiq 16
- Surface Pro
- Mobile Studio Pro
Wacom Intuos – The best option for teachers
Slightly more expensive than the One by Wacom, the main difference in this model is that you get helpful, programable short key buttons. This tablet is ideal for math and physics tutors because its writing surface has enough equally distanced dots to make spatial orientation much more easy.
At the top of this device are the four programmable shortcut keys that you can easily set up with your most shortcuts or software. While these buttons are helpful in their own way, for most teachers they may be too intrusive which is why we decided to put the One by Wacom at the top.
- Programable buttons.
- Structured surface with dots.
- Plug and play.
- Not feature rich enough for graphic artists.
- Some may find the buttons intrusive in the design.
XP Pen – Budget online learning option
If you’re looking for an affordable, easy to use writing tablet that provides a nice combination of ease of use and functionality take a look at the XP-Pen. Not only can you enjoy an accurate device with plenty of of surface space for content creation, it also comes equipped with two physical buttons and some unique design features like an eraser mode.
The XP-Pen Artist 16 Pro is a versatile tablet that runs on Android, Apple, and Windows devices. It has programmable shortcut buttons for easy customization of your digital drawing or writing experience in any software you choose to use with it.
As a budget writing tablet, don’t expect premium sensitivity and accuracy. It’s a basic option perfectly designed for education professionals needing something to write on.
- Competitive on price.
- Buttons that you can use to set basic short cuts too.
- We experiences issues using this tablet with IOS. Slow and not particularly responsive.
One by Wacom – The “good enough” budget option
This is a basic writing and graphics tablet aimed at beginners. More affordable but somewhat less high quality option compared to other on the list with only one sensitive button at its core.
Though it doesn’t perform admirably when compared to higher end models like Cintiq or Intuos Pro sereice which offer features such as touch sensitivity and pressure sensitivity respectively, this tablet still works well enough if you need something just basic writing and drawing.
This tablet we describe as “good enough” because for the online teacher it is. Yes it could have short cut buttons and better sensitivity but it’s not essential.
- Simple and easy to use.
- Affordable with large area for writing.
- Lightweight and the pen does not require a battery.
- No shortcut buttons or sensitivity adjustment.
Intuos Pro – The mid-range upgrade
The Intuos Pro is a popular mid range digital graphics, drawing tablet. It’ comes in multiple sizes which we love (we had the medium size), programable buttons and a very tactile surface with that is pressure sensitive.
The nib on the pen is good, but we noticed it degraded pretty fast with casual use. If you’re a graphic artist that may be a real annoyance in having to replace the pen nib. However, for a teacher wanting a feature rich graphics and writing tablet this is a non issue.
- Comes in multiple sizes for your convenience.
- Excellent writing surface that is pressure sensitive.
- Small, easy to use programable buttons.
- Pen nib wears down way to fast.
- The buttons are on the left, if you’re left handed you may want to avoid this.
Huion Pro – A Great Mid Range Drawing Tablet
This tablet is the perfect match for people who are always on the go and require a bit more mobility. It has a light weight and generous drawing space, making it as useful in your living room, home office or at school/work. Its lightweight design makes sure you don’t have to sacrifice portability for functionality.
The tablet’s design is focused on versatility, as it can be used in two different modes: PC and phone. For mobile devices like a phone, drawing space has been reduced to what fits into a phone screen resolution. Perfect for students that follow their courses on phones instead of laptops.
Another desirable aspect is the small shortcut buttons which may take up the sidebar of the device. We found them easy to press down with your finger or stylus.
- Works with phones.
- Tilt functions for ease of use.
- Works wonderfully with Android but not IOS mobile devices.
- The pen requires a battery.
Cintiq 16 – Premium Graphics and Drawing Tablet
The Cintiq 16 Drawing Tablet has a surface that feels paper like. There is resistance, but it’s not as smooth as glass as an iPad Pro which is a good thing.
The new model of the pen offers more sensitivity than the old pen that comes with the Intuos line which is something we we’re surprised mattered when using a pressure sensitive devices.
The texture feels natural, responsive and is sensitive. It comes with programable buttons and is a lot of fun to use for both teaching online and leisure.
- Gorgeous display.
- Natural feeling pen and tablet.
- Connects to your computer easily.
- Excessive option for strictly someone who teaches.
Surface Pro – The Hybrid Choice
We’re big fans of the Microsoft Surface Pro here at Teach and Go. It tops our list for laptops for online teaching and it’s so versatile that we don’t have any issues suggesting to use it as a writing or graphics tablet.
Not only can you teach online with it and use a stylus on the touch screen, it does in fact double as a tablet which you can use alone or connect to another computer or monitor. It’s not ideal for professional artists, but for an online teacher the 12.3 inch version of this laptop/tablet hybrid is quite useful.
- An excellent hybrid of a laptop and tablet.
- Can double as a graphics or writing tablet.
- Excellent choice for teachers, not ideal for digital artists.
Mobile Studio Pro (16 inch) – The digital artists choice
A ridiculously powerful and feature rich graphics and writing tablet. It’s one of the best, if not the best product in it’s vertical which is why we included it. But unless your a graphic artist or a high level university art teacher, the Mobile Studio Pro is way to excessive and big.
It’s not just the size of a Wacom Mobile Studio Pro 16 that sets it apart from previous models, but also its powerful Intel processor and fast data processing. Its incredible computing power and quick data transfer opportunities with features like Thunderbolt 3 connectivity for lightning-fast transfers up 128GB worth of information per second.
The pen and can be customized for artists of all levels. It is capable of pressure sensitivity and up to 1,024-levels on a tilt response & lag free tracking screen. It has two express Keys that are customizable for certain needs by including shortcuts or other features like brightness controls in order to optimize workflow.
- Large, feature rich device with no limitations.
- A professionals choice.
- Expensive and way to big for most teachers outside of the digital art space.
Best writing pads for online teachers
A graphics tablet may not be necessary for every teacher or learner, but it does offer many benefits when used correctly. If you’re looking to expand the functionality of your laptop or desktop in a fun and easy way, consider getting a digital writing pad or graphics tablet so you can write an illustrate concepts for your student.