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Last week I took four days off and I have really paid for it this week, getting caught back up is always a challenge. The new Smart Boards have finally arrived and this week we had the facilities crew installing them in the classrooms. The electricians now need to follow behind this crew and install the long USB cables in the walls and run them to the classroom computers. Technology support is often a team effort.
Our media services department has also been adjusting the projectors in the room so that the projected image fills the entire screen. We have been purchasing the wide-screen format Smart Boards for the past couple of years and this requires some projector movement to get things dialed in just right. This was a good call as nearly all new media being created today is now produced in the wide-screen format and it looks so much more modern than the old 4:3 TV format we have lived with for years. After all the crews finish with the hardware installations it is my turn to uninstall Version 9 Smart Board software and install the new Version 10 in all of the Smart Board classrooms.
With the addition of 13 new Smart Boards this summer and the 11 that we had installed last summer we will have a total 24 classrooms equipped with Smart Boards. This is a great addition for our faculty and preservice teachers as approximately 80 percent of the College of Education & Professional Studies classrooms will be equipped with this technology. Many of our K-12 area schools have significantly invested in Smart Boards and now our students have the opportunity be well versed in Smart Board use before they begin their practicum and student teaching experiences.
Back in Episode 37 of TechTalk4Teachers I made Version 10 of the Smart Notebook software my technology pick of the week when it was first released. If you have not listened to Episode 37 you may want to go back and review it because I gave an overview of the new features available in Version 10. We have elected to upgrade all 24 classrooms to Version 10 of the Smart Notebook software. These decisions are not made lightly and can have considerable impact.
Since we had 11 classrooms that were using Version 9 of the software last year we did not want to have a mixed environment of versions for our faculty and students to deal with. After talking with department chairs and faculty the decision was made to go to all version 10 of the software in our classrooms. Since many of our faculty float from one classroom to another we did not want to have a situation where a faculty member or student created and saved something in version 10 and then went to another classroom that had version 9 software that would not open the newer version.
Some of my friends in the Twitterverse helped ease my mind this week with this decision as some of them have also been using Version 10 and the consensus was to move forward with the new version in all classrooms. Moving forward is always a tough call as most new technology products often have a few bugs to work out. After using Version 10 over the summer we have experienced few problems and the new features do warrant this upgrade. I do have a concern about the Gallery of Essentials that seems to be quite a bit different and would offer my recommendation to Smart to keep all artifacts in the gallery from one upgrade cycle to another. It is disappointing when you get used to using certain clip art only to find that it has disappeared in a newer version. This will help keep minimum disruption for future upgrades and keep users happy. It is fine for Smart to keep adding to this collection, just do not take anything away.
Installing the Smart Notebook software is a bit of a messy process as all of our classrooms have security software that must first be disabled before permanent changes can be made for updates and this requires a reboot of the computer. If Version 9 of the Smart Notebook software has already been installed then it must first be removed using the Add/Remove Programs feature in the Control Panel and a second reboot after Version 9 is uninstalled. After the second reboot the installation for Version 10 can be completed. Finally the security program for the computer must be reapplied and a final reboot of the computer. Repeat this 23 times and that should take care of the software installations! It can be a bit time consuming but I think having all classrooms at the same version will be worth it so as to not have to deal with compatibility issues.
Be sure to checkout the link I have provided in the shownotes to the Smart website that features an overview and demos of some of the new features in Version 10 of the Smart Notebook software.
New Version 10 Smart Notebook Featureshttp://www2.smarttech.com/st/en-US/Products/SMART+Board+software/default.htm?WT.mc_id=HPNB1008v5
Tom’s Technology Pick of the Week
My technology pick of the week this week is an application that I ran across while researching a need to post some family photos online in a scrapbook fashion. The name of the web application is Scrapblog and allows users to easily create electronic scrapbooks online with the added benefit of allowing blog-like comments about your creations. Think of this services as a social networking site for scrapbook creators that allows for easy sharing and commenting.
The other really nice thing about the scrapblog service is that you can send a link via email to your friends so they can view your scrapbook online or you can copy an embed code and post it directly into your blog. For those that are not so creative or those of us that need a little help on the design-side of things this service provides hundreds of pre-made designs and objects for you to adorn your pages. Music can be added and the end result is an attractive online version of your own scrapbook to share with others. This Web 2.0 service can actually be a free substitute for iMovie or MovieMaker and has an intuitive interface that teachers may find helpful in preparing quick presentations with professional design elements. Scrapblog also offers the ability to work with other services such as YouTube for videos and Flickr for photos.
That wraps it up for episode 49 of TechTalk4Teachers. Show notes for this episode and archived episodes are available on the web at the EIU Instructional Technology Center website at www.eiu.edu/itc by clicking on the Techtalk4Teachers Podcast link. Do you have a story about the new Smart Notebook Version 10 to share or a tip on how you are using Smart Boards in the classroom? How are your upgrades going with Smart Notebook Version 10? I would love to hear your experiences. To leave a comment or suggestion please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment on the TechTalk4Teachers blog. Until next time, this is Tom Grissom, keep on learning.