The long anticipated update to SMART Notebook™ was released recently. You can get your update here if you’ve already got yourself a license. It’s always interesting to see what new features each company adds in their latest releases. This post aims at providing you with a brief overview of the changes we’re seeing and some advice as to how they might be used.
Let’s take a look….
The first thing you’ll notice is the slight change in the appearance of the tool bars. They’re now a little ‘chunkier’ – having two layers of tools instead of one – and are organised by their tool style.
Divided into three sections, you’ll find an area of your tool bar for actions (common software functions like undo, save etc), an area for tools (like your pens, erasers, shapes etc) and an area for the properties of those tools. The properties section is a little like those offered by Starboard, Easiteach (NG) and Promethean (in it’s main tool bar) . It allows you to quickly change pen thickness, colour and settings for the tool you’re working with, without having to head to the properties tab. Of course, the properties tab is still there and is vital for more complex options like “animate object”. I like having these options to hand though, it makes things a little bit faster – which is always much appreciated.
To add icons to the tool bar, simply right click on it and the familiar options will appear, allowing you to drag items to personalise your tool bar and get it the way you like it!
More Opportunities to Personalise Learning
One of the things that has always driven me mad, and I have never fully understood, is Notebook’s inability to pull objects from behind layers. This is something that is so useful for differentiation and challenge and is something that ALL the other IWB software packages I’ve ever used have done for years. It’s still not here But there is hope that it might be. Perhaps one day it will be an ‘Add-on’?
Needless to say, I am very happy to see the arrival of the “Add Ons” Tab This brand new tab will become a place for small apps to run, Apps which help you to create activities quickly which personalise learning meaningfully. It is, in fact, VERY like Easiteach Next Generation’s Widget bar – at least in concept. Currently, it contains just the one ’Add on’ – the Activity Builder.
How the Activity Builder Works:
The Activity Builder actually only lets you create one type of activity – this activity is almost identical to that which can be created in Activ Inspire using containers. You can have one object on the page accept or reject other objects. Allowing the students to get instant assessment feedback on their work.
The builder is relatively easy to use. It’s a case of selecting the object that you want to use as the ‘container’ for the right and wrong answers. Then, you tell Notebook which ones that container should accept and which ones it should reject. You do so by dragging the items into one of two boxes. There are also settings which allow a wrong answer to be flung back from where it came from (Promethean call this – ‘return if not contained’) and to have the objects fade out when they are correctly placed in the container. I like that effect, it makes it look the objects are going into the container.
If you choose to attach a sound to an object you can also have the object play its sound when it is either rejected or accepted.
We can record sounds inside the software!
This has been another thing that’s been missing for a while. When I run courses where the participants are using a range of software I have to send the SMARTies to Audacity before they can add sounds to objects. Promethean and Easiteach have had inbuilt audio recording facilities for a little while. This is another welcome addition Thanks SMART team.
LOTE / NAP / ESL / Primary school teachers… you’ll love how easy it is to record and attach a sound to an object
Place the object you would like to have made the sound on the page. Right click on it and choose ‘sound’. From here you can now record a sound straight onto the object. If you’re on a laptop that should work straight away – otherwise you may have to plug-in a mic. Either way you’ll find it as easy as hitting “start recording” and “Stop” you can choose (as usual) to have the sound play when you click the object or when you click the corner of the object.
The addition of the Browser
This little trend was started by Easiteach Next Generation. It’s fantastic to have a browser on the page, within your notebook file. It allows you to connect with what ever web 2.0 wonders your students might be undertaking on their 1:1 laptops or their iPads and can help you to avoid nasty copyright problems. If you’re displaying a video, from another site, inside your file then you don’ t have to download it, you’re not breaching copyright as it remains on the server where it was posted by its original publisher.
They’ve also made it really easy for you to drag images from the website you have in your browser to the page of your Notebook file. Just left click, hold and drag the image straight from the site and onto your page. That’s great… but be careful that the person who placed that image on-line wants you to make copies. Don’t go breaking copyright there instead!
In addition to these changes the following additions have also been made:
- You can now reset your page to the last saved version. From the Pages tab simply right-click the page and choose Reset – A great trick when you’re working in a carousel in your classroom – and something that’s been a long time coming to Notebook!
- The text options will now appear in the properties part of the tool bar when you type rather than above the text box itself.
- The addition of a crayon texture in the pens tool
- You can now choose your own image to make a pen out of (Very Starboard esq.)
- You can also customise your ink so that when you write it fades away (Also very Starboard!)
- The Fill tool’s a bit cleverer now. It can be used to fill irregular, hand drawn shapes. Just makes sure the lines are all enclosed
- If you have one of the newer, gesture controlled boards you can now shake to group. I like this a lot. It means that you don’t have to right-click to access menus any more. You simply select the two objects you’d like to group and give them a shake – they’ll join together straight away.
- There’s the option to try the Notebook Gallery 2.0 beta. This gallery gives you access to both on-line and locally stored content.