SMART, a company that makes products for accessing and sharing information, is debuting several products and introducing new educational initiatives at this week’s National Educational Computing Conference (NECC) in San Antonio, TX.
Among other things, the company is demoing an in-the-works Mac OS X version of SMART Board software. The new software will allow Mac OS X to integrate with the company’s family of interactive whiteboards that include SMART Board, Rear Projection SMART Board and SMART Board for Plasma Displays models. Users can control computer applications simply by pressing on the interactive whiteboard’s touch-sensitive surface, or they can write over top of any application using either their finger or a pen from the SMART Pen Tray.
SMART Board software for Mac OS X should be available in beta form within a month and completed before the start of the 2002-2003 school year, SMART engineer Doug Hill told MacCentral. The OS X version will offer such features as the ability to resize the onscreen keyboard and the ability to make SMART notebook objects transparent.
“There are new features in Mac OS X that we really like,” Hill said. “It has a nice layering technology that lets us do a better job of marking over other applications.”
SMART also hopes to implement handwriting technology via the Inkwell features in Jaguar — the code name for the next major update to Mac OS X due in late summer.
SMART has also introduced the SMART Sympodium IC-150 and IM-150 interactive lectern integration modules that integrate into podiums or desks, bringing interactive presentation technology to auditoriums and lecture halls. The new SMART Expression IM integration module adds peripheral and laptop support to custom-designed cabinets, tables or desks. All equipment is ready to go at the flip of a switch, SMART president Nancy Knowlton said. And it will run on Mac OS X when the aforementioned software is finished.
The SMART Sympodium IC-150 integration module includes an interactive console and is powered by SMART Board software. When the IC-150 is integrated into a podium or desk, the presenter works at the LCD screen using the tethered stylus to control, edit and annotate over computer-based material. With the room’s projector displaying the presentation onto a larger screen, the audience can follow along.
The SMART Sympodium IM-150 integration module includes all the components and functionality of the IC-150 plus the SMART X-Port 30 multimedia switch. Using the switch, a presenter can transition between three peripherals, such as a computer, laptop and document camera. The guest laptop can be connected to the X-Port 30 unit, gaining access to all the console’s interactive features.
SMART is also showcasing SynchronEyes 3.0 is computer-lab instruction software. Right from their desktop, instructors can monitor student progress, control student computers and communicate with students. SynchronEyes software uses an existing TCP/IP network to create a focused learning environment where up to 80 student workstations can be monitored and controlled from the teacher’s computer. Version 3.0 delivers significantly increased operating speed and interactive features, including the ability to assign students to groups, set up chat sessions, conduct polls with automatic tallying and administer quizzes, Knowlton said.
SynchronEyes software makes it easier for teachers to assist students and facilitate learning in a computer lab, she added. The software displays thumbnail images of all students’ screens on the teacher’s desktop so they can monitor each student’s progress. Students can send questions directly to the teacher, who can then type a response or click on the appropriate thumbnail image to assist the student. If several students need help, the teacher can broadcast his screen, or any student’s screen, to the entire class or to a specific group of students. To focus attention, teachers can blank all student screens and lock mice and keyboards.
Version 3.0 enables teachers to deliver interactive polls and multiple-choice quizzes, and the software will automatically compile the results. Instructors can also set up chat sessions to facilitate collaboration among student teams. At the end of a lesson, settings and permissions for all students and groups can be saved as a profile. When students log in again, these settings are immediately active.
Using labeled symbols and connectors, teachers and students can create multilevel diagrams to visually represent complex ideas with SMART Ideas concept-mapping software. Using labeled symbols and connectors, teachers can create diagrams that visually represent complex ideas. The software’s interface enables users to preview and expand diagrams and link to more information.
This week at NECC, SMART Technologies also announced a curriculum development service that helps teachers incorporate their interactive technology products, including the SMART Board interactive whiteboard and software products, into the classroom. By developing interactive materials based on a school, district or state curriculum and lesson plans, the service ensures that educators are delivering technology-enabled lessons while still meeting state standards, according to Knowlton.
The adapted lessons help teachers use the interactive features of instructional technology to enhance the way they teach, Knowlton said. Examples of student activities range from writing or drawing in electronic ink and arranging images and text objects to creating multilevel concept maps and recording computer-based activities, including data and sound, for playback on any computer. More info can be found at the
curriculum development Web site.