Monday, May 12, 2008

tt4t_037 So many choices, so little time…..

It’s Monday, May 12th 2008 and welcome to episode 37 of TechTalk4Teachers, I’m Tom Grissom. This week is the beginning of our summer session here at EIU and I am looking forward to a little more relaxed atmosphere and have hopes of getting to some projects over the summer that have been on the back burner. The problem is determining what projects I should focus my attention on because there are so many I would like to explore.

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So I thought I would turn to you, the listener/reader, and ask what technologies you are currently using or what technologies you are interested in using for educational purposes that warrant further investigation?

Back on Episode 16 of TechTalk4Teachers I selected a Web 2.0 directory called GotoWeb20 as my Technology Pick of the week. I have provided a link to this directory in the show notes if you are interested in seeing a listing of Web 2.0 companies that this website offers.

Web 2.0 Directory

As of December 14, 2007 there were 1859 Web 2.0 companies listed in this directory. As of today, May 12th, 2008, there are now 2382 companies listed. Thus there has been a net increase of over 500 new Web 2.0 companies listed in this directory over just the past five months. Granted many of these companies are small startups hoping to make it big in the Web 2.0 space and many may not have educational applications but the sheer number of new choices make it a daunting task for educators trying keep up with the rapid pace of development currently underway. How do we even begin to qualify these services to validate if they have worthy educational value?

We are living in the wild, wild, west days of Web 2.0 where companies are fighting for recognition and a valid business model that will keep them in business. With so many choices how do educators find resources that are useful and at the same time have any sense of confidence that the companies will be around next year?

Education is about the future. As we prepare students for the future the number one ability, in my opinion, is teaching students how to learn, and re-learn. No human can possibly keep up with all the innovations currently underway and even if we could this would be a never ending cycle as new innovations continually appear. So perhaps it is time to reevaluate my strategy of trying to keep up.

As I approach the summer I am torn between exploring breadth versus depth of some of the new Web 2.0 tools. My approach may change but as of now I am leaning toward revisiting some of the older Web 2.0 tools that I have successfully used and investigate them further and deeper, sometimes less is more. Having said that we are in a time of tremendous innovation and I worry that I might miss something of value as I narrow my focus. What do you think? How do you handle your quest for new knowledge of the wild, wild, Web 2.0? Please leave a comment in the blog or send your comments to so we can share them with others. As I talk with other educators I know many feel the way I do so I am interested in how you approach your learning about Web 2.0 services.

Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is the new Smart Notebook Version 10 software. A link is provided in the show notes to the Version 10 Notebook software along with some great tutorials on some of the new features. Version 10 of the Smart Notebook software is now available for download at the Smart Technologies website. Be aware that you will need the serial number of a Smart Board that you use in order to download this new Version 10 software as Smart Technologies have changed their download policies and procedures. Here is a brief summary of new Version 10 Smart Notebook features: First the Table Tool.

Table Tool:
Educators have been asking for a Table tool for a long time in notebook and I am happy to report that Version 10 does in fact offer a table tool. It is very easy to create a table however it was not that easy or intuitive for me to move the table once it was created. To move the table, something most teachers will want to do, you have to select the entire table by drawing a selection box around the table. Next you click the gray button in the upper left corner of the selected table and hold and drag the table to the area of the screen that you want. The Table tool also features a shades feature that allows the teacher to place a shade over each cell in the table. This can be useful for teachers that want to reveal material in a step-by-step fashion. It also has some interesting game possibilities.

Object Animation:
This feature is a lot like the animation feature of PowerPoint. To animate an object or text click on the pull-down menu of the object or text and select Properties. From here you will be able to select an animation such as fly-in, fade, rotate, and so forth.

Educators have also been asking for Themes similar to PowerPoint styles and Smart has also delivered on this feature. There currently are not that many choices for Themes that come standard with Version 10 but you can create your own Theme by using a JPG graphic of your choice.

Magic Pen:
This is my second most favorite new tool just behind tables. The magic pen allows you to draw a circle and the circle will become a spotlight tool to draw students attention to the area of the notebook file you want students to pay attention to. Drawing a square with the magic pen places the magic pen in Zoom mode and you can zoom in to an area of the screen you would like to magnify to see more details. The magic pen fade tool is a tool you can use to make non-permanent notes on a notebook slide. When you use this feature the notes you make will fade away after 10 seconds. This is a great idea because so many teachers annotate a notebook slides to draw attention to certain points but do not want the notes to be permanent. If you use the magic pen fade tool the notes will automatically erase for you.

Shape Tool:
The shape tool allows you to draw freehand shapes and have them recognized and changed into the intended shape that is much neater than you can draw freehanded. The shape tool recognizes squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, triangles, and more.

The Smart Technologies website does a good job explaining the new features of version 10 and I encourage you to visit this site to learn more and watch the demo tutorials on these new features. A link is provided in the show notes. If you are a new Smart Board user or current version 9 user these demos will quickly get you up-to-speed with the new features of Version 10 of the Smart Notebook.

Smart Notebook Version 10

That wraps it up for episode 37 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at just click on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. If you are using Version 10 of the Smart notebook software let us know what you think about the new version, if you would like to make a comment or suggestion please send an email to or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning

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