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:


Teacher Feature: Marie-Christine Kovacs (ETSB, New Horizons)

May 6, 2010

Starting this month, I am starting a “teacher feature” to spotlight individual FGA teachers who have created exemplary ICT materials that they’ve used successfully in their own classrooms. With the teacher’s permission, these ICT materials will be shared on the blog and made available for my readers to download.

Teacher: Marie-Christine Kovacs (Level 4 French)

School Board and Centre: Eastern Townships School Board, New Horizons Adult Education Centre in Sherbrooke, Quebec.

What is the material? Marie-Christine created a SMART Notebook presentation for her level 4 French class. Her presentation was a review of one of the chapters she worked on with her students in her class. The main subjects were: The subjonctive, movement prepositions, the interrogative pronoun “Quel”, directions, questions, pronoun “en vs y” and a review of vocabulary seen in the chapter they were working on.

How did it help her students? Marie-Christine explained to me that because the presentation was so visual and hands-on, it helped her students more easily grasp the concepts they were reviewing. Marie-Christine also found that her students were more interested, focused, and enjoyed learning in a fun and different way. They were also more successful with the test that followed the presentation!

Download: Click below to download a copy of Marie-Christine’s SMART Notebook presentation “revision.notebook” from the ICT Blog. Believe it or not, this is Marie-Christine’s first SMARTBoard presentation! If you’d like to contact her, please let me know and I’ll put you in touch.

Click on image below to download a copy of Marie’s presentation:


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:


SMARTBoard: A quick(er) way to download free sound effects to use within SMART Notebook

February 2, 2010

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

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Quick overview: The SoundJay (www.soundjay.com) website contains hundreds of pre-recorded sound effect files that can be downloaded to be used within your SMART Notebook presentations.  Easy and quick.  No registration required!

How can it be used in the classroom? Sounds from this site can be used within the SMART Notebook software so that if your student taps on an image or word, they will hear a specific sound effect played back.  The SoundJay site includes sound categories such as button beeps, background, human, household, machine, mechanical, nature, transportation, music tracks, and more. The sounds on the site are free of charge and royalty free for typical classroom use. For more specific information in regards to the legalities, you may want to read the terms of use on the SoundJay website.

Video Tutorial: For a quick tour of the SoundJay website, I’ve created an on-line video tutorial which can be viewed below:

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How do I insert these sounds into my SMARTBoard presentations? If you’d like to know how to insert these sounds into your SMART Notebook presentations, please refer to my other ICT Blog posting on inserting pre-recorded sounds into your SMART Notebook presentations.

How does this compare to other sound effect websites? For regular readers of my blog, you may recall that I wrote about the Freesound Project website in a previous blog posting. To compare the two websites, the SoundJay website provides the advantage of allowing you to download sound effects WITHOUT having to first setup an account. In addition, sound files on the SoundJay site are all available in MP3 format which are guaranteed work with the SMART Notebook software.  On the flip side, the Freesound Project website allows you to search for specific sounds by keyword and has a much larger library of sounds to choose from. The SoundJay website only allows you to browse by category – no keyword searching allowed!  My advice?  Use both!

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SMARTBoard: Inserting YouTube and digital video files into your SMART Notebook presentations

January 19, 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 convert videos from YouTube or other digital video files (i.e – videos from a digital camera) so that they can be inserted into your SMART Notebook lessons.

How can it be used in the classroom? If you have access to a SMARTBoard in your classroom, you now have an alternative to dragging in a bulky TV with outdated VHS cassettes or DVDs to support your lesson. Instead, why not think about inserting pedagogically relevant digital videos from YouTube (or other sources) directly into your SMART Notebook presentations? These could be videos of current events or clips that best relate to your students’ interests.

What are the advantages to this approach? One of the advantages to embedding videos directly into a SMART Notebook presentation is that you can showcase videos from blocked sites, such as YouTube.  However, even if YouTube isn’t blocked in your centre, you won’t have to worry about finding the video at a later date or if you’ll have a fast enough Internet connection to play back it back smoothly. This is all possible because the embedded videos are stored locally (i.e – not on the Internet) within the Notebook presentation. In addition, digital videos have the potential to be more current that what you’d find on an older DVD or VHS cassette.

ICT Note: At this point in time, the SMART Notebook software only accepts Flash Video files (.FLV) and will not accept any other types of video files. This Blog posting focuses on how to convert video files into .FLV format with the Zamzar website.

Video Tutorial: This video demonstrates how to convert digital videos so that they can be embedded into presentations created with the SMART Notebook software:


SMARTBoard: How to calibrate your SMARTBoard

October 29, 2009

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

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Quick overview: How to ensure that the SMARTBoard accurately registers where you press with your finger or a pen. Beginner technique.

How can it be used in the classroom: As a rule of thumb, I highly recommend that you calibrate your SMARTboard before EACH class.  This quick and easy procedure (literally just a few seconds) will ensure that your SMARTBoard accurately registers where you press with your finger or pen during a presentation. An uncalibrated board will make it difficult for you to move around small objects or manipulate toolbars. A SMARTBoard will become uncalibrated if your digital projector or SMARTBoard is moved even a fraction of a inch!

Video Tutorial: To see a short on-line video of how to calibrate your board, please click the large play button below:

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ICT Tip: Google Street view allows you to virtually walk around the streets of Canadian cities!

October 8, 2009

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

Quick overview: Google has finally brought their groundbreaking “Street View” technology to Canada! This amazing technology allows your students to virtually walk around the streets of Canadian cities and experience them as if they were really there.  It’s EASY to use, no special software required, and is free. Works even better on a Interactive Whiteboard, such as a SMARTBoard.

How can it be used in the classroom: Using a digital projector, this technology can be used to take your students on a virtual tour of famous Quebec landmarks that the class may not otherwise have been able to travel to in person. French second language students can use this site to verbally describe various landmarks or buildings found in their own neighborhoods. In addition, this technology can be used as a starting point to bring up a class debate regarding privacy in the Internet age.  Would your students be comfortable having others look up their home addresses?  What would the pictures show?  (i.e – Can you see what was in the garbage that day?  Who was parked in the driveway?)  Ultimately, do your students feel this technology is an invasion of our privacy or a beneficial technology?

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of Google Street view, please click the large play button below:

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SMARTBoard: Common problems when preparing SMART Notebook lessons in advance and how to fix them!

October 6, 2009

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

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Quick overview: Common problems encountered when preparing SMARTBoard lessons in advance and how to fix them. Intermediate to advanced techniques.

How can it be used in the classroom: In the 2008-2009 school year, I provided many hands-on SMARTboard workshops.  In these workshops, I began to see a pattern of common problems that frustrated many teachers when preparing lessons on their home or school computers (i.e – not on a SMARTBoard) in advance of their classes. As this is the case, I’ve prepared a small video tutorial to help you avoid the same frustrations. Topics include working with the text tool, layers, lock in place, allow move, and the text splitter tool.

Important notes: As the tips presented in the video are intermediate to advanced, it is primarily intended for teachers who would like to start preparing SMARTBoard lessons at home or for teachers already using the SMARTBoard on a regular basis. If you are not familiar with the SMART Notebook text tool, I would suggest you first consult my earlier ICT blog posting before watching the video below.

Video Tutorial: To see an on-line video of common problems that occur when preparing SMART Notebook presentations, click the large play button below:

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SMARTBoard: Using the text tool with the SMART Notebook software

September 22, 2009

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

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Quick overview: An overview of the SMART Notebook text tool. Basic technique.

How can it be used in the classroom: If you prepare SMART Notebook lessons on a home or school computer without a SMARTBoard connected to it, you should familiarize yourself with the text tool. The text tool is needed when you are preparing your lessons in advance and don’t have access to the physical SMARTBoard pens to create handwritten text in your lessons. The following video also contains some useful tips for math and science teachers using the text tool.

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

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