Tuesday, January 25, 2011

SMART Notebook Express

Image from http://express.smarttech.com/
 They've finally done it!  SMART has released a browser-based version of Notebook software called SMART Notebook Express.  Since it's browser-based, there's no cumbersome & time-consuming software to install, just click-and-go. As you can see in this screen shot, there are some pros and cons:


  • It's light, quick, and easy to get started with
  • It opens many existing Notebook files, and most of the features created in the original desktop version work seemingly fine when used with the browser-based version 
  • Users can type or write (depending on how steady you are with a mouse)
  • The Screen Shade is available
  • Users can add multiple pages and even attachments
  • Users can use a few of the formatting tools to jazz up the slides a bit
  • Flash objects already inserted into files also work just fine
  • Very limited editing and "properties" tools
  • No Gallery or Lesson Activity Toolkit objects
  • Cannot add new animations or hyperlinks (existing files seem to work okay) 
  • No handwriting recognition (but why would you need that?)
  • No dual-page display
  • Math Tools are not available
  • No Spotlight or Magic Pen features
Verdict: Heck, even with all those drawbacks, I still like it.  I can see it being used most often as a way for kids to open Notebook files at home in order to stay up-to-date with classroom activities, which is probably the intent.  Teachers can now simply post the file used in the classroom, without converting it to a PDF, etc., to share on a student/parent web site, blog, or wiki.  It might also work as a nice starting point for creating a lesson activity, or to use in an "emergency" on a computer that does not have Notebook installed.  It is not, however, a viable alternative to having the full version of Notebook software installed on a computer (and I'm sure that's the whole point).  Give it a try - I think you'll like it, too!

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