Consider this: Advantages and limitations of Interactive Whiteboards

April 19, 2011

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: An interactive white board (i.e. – SMARTBoard) can do wonders for your classroom but can be detrimental if used improperly. This post provides an overview of the advantages and limitations of this technology.

What is this post about? This post is a little different from what we normally post up on the blog. Instead of providing you with a new ICT suggestion this week, we’d like to step back and analyze an ICT tool that many of you may be already using in your classroom – the Interactive White Board. Do you have one in your classroom? Is your center or school considering acquiring one or several? It’s a wonderful tool, but like every tool it can be used poorly and hinder rather than help in what we’re trying to achieve. The following Sliderocket presentation is from our colleague Marc-André Lalande, who runs the RECIT FGA r.u.a.ware website, which you should definitely check out when you’re done reading this post. (Source: Marc-André Lalande, RECIT Provincial Service)

Feedback: Comments? Thoughts? We really want to hear what you have to say! Please feel free to leave your comments on our blog with the “leave a comment” link below this post.


SMARTBoard: A web based version of the SMART Notebook software

October 26, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: A web based version of the SMART Notebook software. Now you or your students can open Notebook lessons on ANY computer with a web browser and an Internet connection!

How can this be used in the classroom: The SMART Express website (express.smarttech.com) is a simplified on-line version of the SMART Notebook software. It’s similar to the SMART Notebook software that you are already familiar with, but it can be accessed on any computer with a web browser. You can use it to open previously created SMART Notebook lessons, or even create simple new ones. This site works great when you want your students to open up a copy of your lesson on their computers at home or if you need to have access to the SMART Notebook software in a pinch. That all being said, please keep in mind that the SMART Express website is not meant to replace the SMART Notebook software you already have installed on your school or home computer. Currently, many features and tools are missing from the SMART Express website when compared to the SMART Notebook software. Regardless, it’s still worth checking out!

Legal: An added bonus is that the SMART Express website can be used on other products (Tablet PCs, other Interactive Whiteboards, touch enabled projection systems, etc..) that you are not normally allowed to use the SMART Notebook software on. Please read this official PDF document for more information. (Source: ISTE 2010 Conference)

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of how to use the SMART Express website, please click the large play button below:


SMARTBoard: How to share your SMART Notebook presentations with your students (as a PDF file)

April 27, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: A step-by-step video tutorial on how to export your classroom SMART Notebook presentation as a PDF file. This allows your students to open your presentation on their home computers, even if they don’t have the SMART Notebook software installed.

How does it work? By default, a SMART Notebook presentation is saved as a “.notebook” file. This type of file requires that you have the SMART Notebook software installed on your computer in order to re-open it. If you do not have the SMART Notebook software on your computer, it simply will not open. That being said, most of our students do not have the SMART Notebook software installed on their home computers and will be unable to open your presentation if you decide to share it with them. In order to share your SMART Notebook presentations with ALL your students, you need to export it as a PDF file.

How can this be used in the classroom: This technique is most useful when you use your SMARTBoard as a virtual blackboard by writing with the pens during your class. For example, a record of everything you write on the SMARTBoard could be given to your students as a PDF file at the end of class. The students can then review your handwritten notes on their own computer screens or print it on paper when studying for a quiz or exam. Here is an example of what an exported PDF file looks like from a Notebook presentation. (Thanks to Chantal Bellon, Eastern Quebec Learning Centre, CQSB, for suggesting this ICT tip)

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of how to save and export your SMART Notebook presentation as a PDF file, please click the large play button below:

Advanced ICT Tip: Want to get really fancy? You can even embed additional attachments to your PDF file, such as a supplementary Word or Excel file. Open this example and click on the small paper clip icon next to the words “first derivative test” on the second page. You’ll notice there is a Word document attached that you can open up. If you’d like to know how to do this, please contact me.


SMARTBoard: The SMART Exchange website allows you to search and download complete SMART Notebook lessons!

April 7, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: A great website that allows you to search or browse for free and “ready-to-use” SMART Notebook presentations created by other teachers. This site is maintained by SMART Technologies, the manufacturer of the SMART Board. Hundreds of lessons are available, including FSL and Canadian content. Easy to use.

How can I use it in the classroom? While I always think it’s best to create your own SMART Notebook lessons (i.e. tailored to your students) sometimes we simply don’t have enough time to do so. On other occasions, another teacher may have already done an excellent job creating lesson for a topic that you were planning to cover. If so, why re-invent the wheel? The best way to use this site is to download and look over these presentations in advance of your actual lesson – I can’t emphasize this enough! If you find a lesson that’s interesting, I highly recommend give it a dry run on your SMARTBoard without any of your students present. This way you’ll know where to click and which parts of the presentation are most relevant. Teachers can also give back to the SMART Exchange by uploading their own lessons to the site. In regards to specific questions about legalities, I suggest you consult the FAQ section or Terms of Use on the SMART Exchange site.

Video Tutorial: For more information on how to search, browse, and download lessons from the SMART Exchange, please click the large play button below:


SMARTBoard: Using the Magic Pen Tool with the SMART Notebook software

March 23, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: An overview of the Magic Pen tool found in the SMART Notebook software. Basic technique.

How can it be used in the classroom: The Magic Pen tool can be used in three ways. If you draw a circle with the Magic Pen, it will create a “spotlight” effect to highlight information on the screen. If you draw a rectangular shape with the Magic Pen, it will magnify selected areas of the screen. Lastly, if you use the Magic Pen to draw freehand, the ink will act as “disappearing ink” and fade away after a few seconds.

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of how to use the Magic Pen Tool, please click the large play button below:


SMARTBoard: How to create “links” in your SMART Notebook presentations

March 10, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: A step-by-step video tutorial on how to create links in a SMART Notebook presentation. Links can be to websites, external documents (i.e. – Word, Powerpoint, PDF) or other slides within the SMART Notebook presentation.

How can this be used in the classroom? If there are a number of interesting websites you plan on showcasing during class, you can setup a SMART Notebook presentation in advance so that if you tap on a particular image or piece of text in your Notebook presentation, a web browser will automatically open and go to the link.  In addition, if you are a teacher who likes to showcase Word, PDF, Excel, or PowerPoint documents to your class, linking to external documents from your Notebook presentation is a useful technique to help keep things organized and all in one place when you are presenting.  In other words, no longer would you have to stop what you’re doing and search for individual files on a USB drive or hard disk to show them to your class. Any relevant documents you need for your presentation can be permanently “embedded” into your SMART Notebook presentation.  After you create a link, you would simply need to tap on an image or text in your Notebook presentation to launch the external document!

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of how to create links on the SMART Notebook software, please click the large play button below:


SMARTBoard: Use the SMART Recorder to capture a live video recording of your SMARTBoard presenation and then share it with your students!

February 17, 2010

This ICT tip could be best applied to the following subjects:

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Quick overview: The SMART Recorder is a “screen capture” tool that allows you to record yourself teaching on your SMARTBoard. For those of you who are regular readers of my blog, I use a similar a technique to create the step-by-step video tutorials you see each week. The best part (that I saved for last) is that the SMART Video recorder is really easy to use!

What is required? The SMART Notebook software and a microphone. A video camera is NOT required. A USB drive is recommended for storing the videos.

How can it be used in the classroom: Using the SMARTBoard, you would record yourself teaching a lesson. Anything you write (or say) while teaching on the SMARTBoard is captured by the computer and then automatically packaged into a single video file. You could then provide your students with the video file at the end of class. The students could take home this video file (on a USB drive or sent by e-mail) and watch it as many times as they would like. This approach may be useful for students who have difficulties taking notes and listening at the same time.

What about in an individualized classroom? If you often find yourself explaining the same concepts, why not create a small bank of video tutorials? If your students are receptive to learning with video, you could provide one of these videos to a student (explaining a particular concept) and then circulate around the class to help the others. Once your student is done watching the video file, you would come back and see if anything needs further clarifying.

What do the final videos look like? Here’s an example video (click here to see) that was created by Mark Frost, a math teacher in the Eastern Shores School Board. Mark has created a bank of math videos for students in his individualized classroom using the SMART Recorder. If you’d like to get in contact with Mark Frost and discuss using his videos in your own classroom, please let me know.

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of to use the SMART Video Recorder, please click the large play button below:


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