This week Smart have released an updated version of the notebook software, Smart Notebook v.10 Service Pack 1. This is basically a version 10 upgrade with the minor bugs fixed. There are no major changes. I installed it yesterday and have been using it today, it is working well so far and I haven’t come across any problems. One definite advantage to this version is that it has the software and drivers in one download, so you don’t need to install them separately. The latest full version can be downloaded from:
I finally had a chance to see the new Smart Document Camera in action yesterday. This is an Elmo L1n visualiser which works with the Smart notebook software, so that you can view and capture the visualiser without the need to open additional software. There is an icon on the toolbar in notebook v.10 which activates the visualiser. You can then control it from the screen without leaving the notebook. I like this visualiser as it has excellent optical zoom (5.2x) and a well designed camera head which I find easy to position. The down side is the price – RRP Â£649, which is Â£100 more than the stand alone L1n. The stand alone version can also capture into Smart, but you have to use it’s own software, so really you are paying for ease of use. View the full description and specifications on the Smarttech website at:
Another new release is Smart Notebook SE (Student Edition). This was released last week in beta (test) version. The idea is that the student edition will be used on individual computers which are not connected to the interactive whiteboard, while the teacher uses the original version on the board itself. The student version has a very different design, including tabs similar to internet browsers, and a page for pupils to organise their own work. It’s difficult to predict where this one will go – they may well incorporate the new features into the next version of the notebook. You can download a version to play with from Smarttech at:
This week I have been evaluating some of the latest digital audio resources for developing speaking and listening. A large range of digital sound recording devices is now available, with models to suit all ages and budgets.The most simple of the devices are the Talking Tins from Talking Products (http://www.talkingproducts.co.uk/), and Talking Point from TTS (http://www.tts-group.co.uk/). These devices are suitable for very young children, as they only have 2 buttons – record and play. They come in a 10 or 30 second version, and are very cheap starting at around Â£3.50 each. They could be used by children to record words or sentences, as a scaffold for writing, or by teachers to create interactive activities or displays.
Similar to these are the Talk Time Recordable Postcards. The postcards have a slot where a picture or small object can be placed for the children to talk about. The children can then record words or sentences lasting up to 10 seconds.
My favourite new device is the Chatterbox from TTS. This will record up to 24 sound clips of 10 seconds each, on numbered buttons. It is very easy to use – simply hold down a number and the record button and speak, then press the number to play back. This device would be fantastic for retelling stories in order, or rehearsing instructions. It could also be used for a group of children to record their ideas – they can each have their own number. I can also see this being used to support EAL pupils – stories could be narrated page by page in their first language.Until recently there has been a gap between the very simple devices, and digital sound recorders designed for adults.
There are now 2 products which record longer sound clips, but have a simple interface which children can use independently. These are the EasiSpeak (Â£25), which is designed like a microphone, and the iMemo (Â£12.50), which looks like a child friendly dictophone. They are suitable for longer speaking activities – the EasiSpeak records up to 30 minutes, and the iMemo up to 2 hours. The EasiSpeak has a USB connection, which allows sound clips to be downloaded to the computer for use in other work such as multimedia presentations or podcasting.
A new e-Safety area is now available on Kirklees Ednet, which has a large number of useful resources for teachers, pupils and parents. There are links to all of the main e-Safety websites such as CEOP and Childnet. There are also sections on cyberbullying and data security for schools. You can find the e-Safety area under ICT General, at http://www.kirklees-ednet.org.uk/subjects/esafety/index.asp
Becta is seeking proposals from schools wishing to participate in Evidence and Practice projects focussing on effective use of learning platforms to improve assessment.
A limited number of grants of Â£5,000 will be made available via a competitive bidding process. The purpose of the grant is to support schools in focussing on selected areas of practice and impact, and in providing feedback to Becta. In particular, it is to be used for staff time in developing and participating in the project, and in producing the Final Project Report AND Case Study. Participating schools will be expected to participate in the Learning Platform online community too.
This Evidence and Practice competitive grant has been developed in partnership with the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). Interested? Complete the competitive grant proposal form [http://collaboration.becta.org.uk/docs/DOC-1422] and return to Jacqui Drudge at email@example.com by 5pm Monday, 15 September 2008.
If you have any questions please contact Bernie Zakary on 024 7679 7230 or Ann Harris on 024 7679 7443.
The YHGfL website (http://www.yhgfl.net)has been completely redesigned over the summer. New developments are links to the best resources from the National Education Network (NEN), and an eSafety section. The resources section includes a range of free resources developed by YHGfL, and links to other free resources. Click on resource links to accessÂ free resources from the NEN. For those new to the NEN, it is basically the national network of Regional Broadband Consortiums, all of which have developed free resources for schools in their area. YHGfL aim to link to the best of these resources from their website. I particularly like the NEN gallery, which has a large bank of quality images which are free for educational use.
Also worth a look are the weather stations, which allow you to look at real time and historical weather data from around the Yorkshire and Humberside region. Eventually the weather stations will also have a live webcam, but they are not all live yet. The Huddersfield weather station is located at All Saints Catholic College.