As I’ve mentioned before, from September we are getting rid of SMART Notebook in our school and unplugging all the the SMARTboards. This is not a move without controversy and so there is a certain amount of vision-casting that will need to be done with staff to explain why this happening. To help me get my thinking straightened out with it all, I thought I would do a preemptive response to possible/probably questions about it all.
I don’t see what’s wrong with Notebook
In our school, about a quarter of the installed boards are so old that they are no longer supported by SMART and so don’t work. Another quarter are non-SMART interactive LCD displays that can’t be touch enabled and still use Notebook (due to licensing issues). Of the other half of boards that are reasonably new and should (in theory) work, a good proportion of them suffer from some damage to the surface which means they are pretty unusable on a day-to-day basis.
So the options are:
- Carry on as we are, with a few pioneers using Explain Everything on a mirrored iPad to give true interactivity, with everyone else using Notebook as a glorified slide deck
- Replace all of the boards with new SMARTboards
- Ditch SMART Notebook and unplug SMARTboards and move over to mirroring iPads using Explain Everything
||Teachers already know what they’re doing. Previous years’ resources can be reused.
||No or limited interactivity. Costs involved with updating Notebook software (which will inevitably need to be done following OSX upgrades) – an unknown, but could potentially be £kkk.
||Teachers already know what they’re doing. Interactivity is restored.
||Very expensive and means budget cannot be spent on other stuff, like more class sets of iPads.
||Reliable interactive surface is the iPad. Can make use of all the power of the iPad in the classroom, through camera, microphone etc. Taking the school forward rather than sticking with a fading and disrupted technology that is the SMARTboard.
||Teachers have to learn a new tool. Previous years’ resources cannot easily be reused. Potential opposition from staff!
Ok, so I can see that we need to make a change. But can’t we just keep Notebook anyway?
What is interesting is that we’ve had a year of this situation, and only a few teachers have taken up using an iPad instead of Notebook on the Mac. Teachers are busy people who have got plenty of other things to think about, and I guess tweaking your pedagogy to incorporate new technology isn’t high on the list of priorities. But if we don’t make a move, we may suddenly hit a brick wall in the future. Say, for example, Notebook 11 doesn’t work on OSX Yosemite come Autumn. Do we hold back our Macs to keep Notebook working? Or pay lots of money for licensing the newer Notebook?
What’s so great about using a mirrored iPad and Explain Everything?
- Cameras = visualiser anywhere in the classroom
- You can teach from any point in the classroom – no wires!
- You can teach facing your class
- No need to align your interactive display on a daily/hourly basis ;-D
- Cool screen recording stuff
- Multi-touch interaction of onscreen elements
- Using a user interface that is designed for touch
How can I write?
Classrooms have all got some other form of whiteboard/flipchart if you want to do some proper modelled writing. But for scribing stuff, we’re investing in some proper capacitive styluses for teachers to use.
How can I share files across my year group?
We have a webDAV server that is accessible in and outside of school using the normal secure logins. This allows you to open Explain Everything files from the shared drive and export them back there again.
What if I desperately need to open a Notebook file from previous years?
SMART have an online version of Notebook at http://express.smarttech.com where you can open files from your computer.