Tuesday, March 16, 2010

NCTIES 2010: SMARTBoard 10.6

During this years 2010 NCTIES conference I had the opportunity to sit in on the SMART 10.6 update session. There are lots of new updates for this version as well as a couple of things that will need a little bit of discussion.

So what is the deal with the new software. From what I saw in the workshop the new version 10.6 is a combination of the SMART Math and standard SMART 10.5 software. Now we all know that the SMART Math software has a cost to it, even though there is a dual load capability per license it is still pretty costly in this time of economic turmoil. The new SMART v 10.6 will give you a lot of features of Math version without the cost. The new version offers you an "appetizer" in that it allows you full access to SMART Math tools for ONLY 30 days. The nice thing is that after that 30 days not all of the tools go away, you get to keep a few things that are actually some very nice tools to use.

After you load the software you will notice that there is an additional tool bar which shows up below the standard tool bar but can be hidden if needed.

Measurement Tools: The Icon with the Compass and Protractor
You have access to a new Protractor, Compass, Ruler. These tools are different from the original ones from the Gallery. They are more intuitive and practical.
Ruler - Trace along the edge, toggle between metric and empirical, numbers stay justified regardless of position and it shows the angle degrees.
Protractor - Similar to original except that you have a Green bar that can be adjusted to show the angle, trace along the edge, you can eject the angle onto the Notebook page and numbers stay justified when rotating.
Compass - Similar in design to original except new one offers easier adjustments of angle than original, ink matches pen colors and can create both arcs and circles.

There is an addition to the Lines Tool in that you can now create perfect curved lines. On the Shapes Tool you now have additional perfect shapes in a circle and square as well as all triangular shapes.

There are also some great resource options that are available.
SMART Exchange Integration - now there is a direct link to the website from the Gallery Tab
Training Materials - directly from the SMART Tech website.
Online Training - provided in sessions through out the year to help you out.
Training Video - Let's you know what is new in Version 10.
Learning Management System - Where you can sign up for and participate in online training.
Google Search - SMART inspired that filters automatically down to 25 resources.
Educator Google Search - Created by an Educator to filter down to 125 lesson resources.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thoughts on NCTIES 2010

Our Instructional Technology Department recently attended the NCTIES conference in Raleigh, NC.

For me this years conference was different from the previous years that I have attended. We had our usual vendor floor, concurrent sessions, poster sessions and featured speakers. I checked out some of the sessions and attended the luncheon with Ron Clark the special guest speaker. Which for me was eye opening because I had not attended any of his workshops or speeches before, and the amount of energy he displayed could make you tired in a few minutes.

Normally I try to attend as many sessions as I can to learn as much as I can about current uses of technology in the classroom and the such. I did attend a couple of sessions that I will share in another entry, but this year I seemed to be socializing more. Now what I mean by socializing is that I talked to more people this year than I have in the past. With volunteering at the North Carolina Special Interest Groups (NCSIGS) Table I talked with lots of different people from around the state. As well being on Twitter, Facebook, Ning and following other Blogs I got the opportunity to actually meet some of the people I have only known as an Icon on a computer screen. Making a connection with those other educators seemed to dominate my time during the conference and has added another level to my PLN, where I now have the faces to go with the icons on the screens that I am reading about.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Video Games that Teach

Here again we talk about the big debate. Do video games have the ability to stretch beyond their entertainment value and crossover to become educational?

Let's take a look at a FREE game that teaches students grades 7th through 12th about the Immune System.

The game is called "Immune Attack," And what does this game offer students "...You must navigate a nanobot through a 3D environment of blood vessels and connective tissue in an attempt to save an ailing patient by retraining her non-functional immune cells. Along the way, you will learn about the biological processes that enable macrophages and neutrophils – white blood cells – to detect and fight infections."

After years of research and collaboration dating back to 2001, In 2008 Immune Attack was launched. As a Free download from the FAS website, ..."This version of Immune Attack is a proof of concept, a huge step toward demonstrating that a video game can be made about science. A video game storyline can be written about cells and proteins that is compelling enough to make students want to play the game. And importantly, video game action can be created that is true to science."

The game has quite a large file at just over a half of a gig. But let's face facts people this is a 3D video game, check out the video up top. You do not need to create a username or log into anything just go to the website and click the Download button and depending on your Internet connection you are ready to install in a few minutes.

The game is very detailed and offers lots of tutorials and information all along the way. I actually got into it and did not even realize that 20 minutes had gone by. You have a number of different sources of information to pull from as well as the fact that you are driving around the blood stream in your supped up Nanobot.

video provided by: FAS

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Did U Know: Doc Cam combined with CPU Software

It has been a while since I have written about the uses of Document Cameras in your classrooms but I need to remind you again of some of the features that you can do that you may not have thought about.

Whether or not you have a Lumens, AverMedia, Dukane or Elmo you can software that may already be on your computer to interact with it. I call it the Combined Mode of Doc Cam use.

Now we have multiple applications in our school system that will allow you to go beyond the normal use of your Doc Cam. Some things that you may not have even thought about, some you have, some I may not have even thought about and you can Comment about those uses for my and the other readers benefit.

Remember back a number of months ago I told you about how the Doc Cam software allowed you to create a video, well you can then take that video ( in .avi format ) and upload it to Windows Move Maker, or iMovie and edit, change or modify it as you see fit so that it can then be rebroadcast for those students that were not in class on the day of that classroom assignment. Yes, for those students that are absent they can get caught up by watching the videos you make using the Doc Cam. Now in our school system we have the ability to load these videos to our School Websites and if you are reading this in another School System you may have the same ability as well.

If you have an IWB solution in your school system you have the ability to open up your Doc Cam software and display it on your board, monitor, screen, wall or other display medium and then you can annotate over the image using the available IWB software, ActivInspire, SMARTBoard, eInstruction, etc.. and then save the information to review again or to share with students that are out of the classroom.

The capabilities of use with combining both your document camera software with the computer software is limited by your imagination. I have just supplied two different ways, of the multitude available, to use them together but hope that you will take this information and figure out some others to share.