When I was given a copy of Easiteach Next Generation last year one of the things that made my smile was the “Widgets” toolbar. In Easiteach Next Gen, The icon to activate them is a little green plug. Making me think.. plugins… extra bits and bobs I can use to supplement this software; giving RM the opportunity to add new features without needing to overhaul their software frequently. Being familiar with WordPress, the idea of both “Plugins” and “widgets” is very familiar to me – they’re all over this website! However, what made me smile, was the way it feels when you use them… exactly like when I’m using my I phone and browsing my app store. I could see instant potential for teachers to develop “plugins”, “widgets”, APPS to run on this software.

I thought that this was unique to RMs product but I was wrong. The revolution that Apple started with its App store seems to be spreading into all sorts of IWB software products.

It turns out that Promethean have begun to explore the idea of APPS too…. I’ve only turned up one so far It’s called “Noteboard” and runs separately to Inspire as an “app”. It’s designed for use on the new ActivBoard 500 (the one with fingers, pens and four touch points) and incorporates the Activ Expression beautifully.

At this point I’m not sure what the APP store would look like for other Activ Tools. In previous incarnations I’ve seen dual user style apps for drum kits, puzzle makers and collaborative block building games but these were made for demonstration of the new dual user features and weren’t really marketed as Apps as such.

The video above shows that some great research has gone into finding ways to further encourage integration between the IWB and the peripherals. I love the research that has obviously gone on behind the integration of the voting tools to encourage collaborative learning. The steps that have been taken there to help us to do more meaningful things with the info that our students are sending to us. This really would accelerate learning further in my English classroom. It would certainly make it much easier for me to see learning happen (and for any inspector who may walk in to have “progress” demonstrated on a big shiny screen where they can’t miss it 😉

Of course, there is also “the [new] world of pen and touch” (I know SMARTies nothing new for you – you lucky things!) and I love the way in which that is being used to allow the more natural interaction. One of the loudest complaints I get from teachers who are still wearing their training wheels, is caused by the frustration of having to remember to hit the “select” tool from the tool bar when ever they’ve finished using another tool. If the pen stays as the tool and the finger as the movement and manipulation I can see a few more smiles erupting 😉

SMART of course, have the same type of functionality in their hardware. In fact, they go one step further, their hardware not only distinguishes between finger and pen but with its “object awareness” feature is will know when you want to erase too! In terms of apps though. I’m in the dark there. (please share if you have any info on this!) They already have extra packs that you can buy into like it’s Maths Tools package but will these “add ons” turn into apps too?

What kind of apps would you like to see for your board? Should we be looking at more integration between Ipad (or other touch screens) and our IWBs?

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