If you’re ready to jump on board after reading the article, you might want to time your upgrade carefully. I tried installing the software over our wireless network when most people were out of the building, and it took and hour and a half to download and install. (Notebook wants to uninstall your old software and “start from scratch” with the new version. Plus, it re-installs all the old graphics in the Gallery & Lesson Activity Toolkit along with a bunch of new features.) My laptop was able to multi-task somewhat during this time, but it was very slow. If you do this on your own, you’ll need to find a time when there’s very little competition for bandwidth in your home or school as well as time when you don’t need to use your computer for quite a while.
That being said, the new features are pretty nice!
The new toolbar (above) arranges familiar buttons in multiple rows and clusters. You can make the more-often-used buttons larger (the height of both rows). Buttons are grouped by Actions (on the left) and Commands (on the right). Clicking a Command button will reveal a set of buttons that let you control the Properties of the Command. For example, click the Pen command and buttons appear that let you select the color, line style, line weight (thickness), etc. Quite handy!
One of my favorite new Commands is the addition of a Crayon tool. This Command turns your pen strokes into digital ink that looks like wax crayon on paper. …And who doesn’t like to color…? Fun!
My favorite new Command is the addition of the SMART Exchange button. This automatically opens SMART Exchange, a warehouse of pre-made lessons and activities you can download and customize for your classroom. It’s a great time-saving resource for busy teachers like you!
On the left side (by default – you can move it over if you wish) you’ll see a new tab with a “puzzle piece” on it. This is the Activity Builder. This new feature helps guide you through the process of making your activity more interactive for your students. I haven’t played with this a lot yet, but it looks promising.
So what else is new? Lots! In addition to a number of smaller enhancements to existing tools, they’ve added an embedded Internet browser, a voice recorder, Google 3-D Warehouse and new activities to the Lesson Activity Toolkit. There’s also a Beta version of the Gallery, which I look forward to exploring soon, too.
Last, users will notice the Gallery has a special listing of Interactive Techniques. These are individual slides that explain to users how to create and use certain interactive techniques that previously would be learned during a formal SMART Training event. These include “Erase-to-Reveal,” “Color-to-Reveal,” “Object Animation,” and “Using Pull-tabs” – handy features for the novice and intermediate users!
If you’re willing to invest the time, the newest SMART Notebook Software (Version 11) could be pretty cool! Read the article to learn more!