PC VERSION REVIEW – MAC COMING SOON…
The first thing you’ll notice when you open your upgraded version of Easiteach Next Generation is the addition of some rather swanky looking tabs at the bottom of the welcome screen. From here, the team at RM, have added some nifty new features that will really help out new users. As well as the more traditional offer to open a document or create a new one, the software now has built in links to help videos and tutorials to help you get the best out the software as well as direct access to easilearn.com so that you can search for resources from inside the software itself; no need to open a browser and navigate away.
You’ll also see the option to “change the interface style” . It’s in the bottom left hand corner. This allows you to change the colour scheme from the dark purples and blacks to silver. The ability to change which language the software is running in as well as the option to turn on/off help tooltips (very much like when you start playing a new computer game!) is also very welcome as it makes it easier to get these very important options and tools.
Record the Screen
Another brilliant feature to be added is the screen recorder. This is somthing that RM’s biggest competitors (SMART and Promethean) have been doing for years and I’m really, really glad that it’s been added. WHen you click on your purple camera icon – to get to multimedia you’ll notice that the icons for recording media have moved to the right hand side. There’s a new icon too. It looks like a tv screen. If you click on this you’ll be able to record everything that you do on screen. That includes both recording in and outside of Next Generation itself 😉 The recorder asks you to choose where you want to save you video recording and then begins. There are no options to record just part of the screen, you have to record the whole screen but I love the way it works both inside and out of the software instantly. To stop recording (in windows) you head to the task bar (the bit by your clock) and click on an icon which sits down there. Very easy to use 🙂
Add sounds to objects
The other multimedia addition is the ability to record sound straight onto an object. Easiteach, you’ve really cracked this one! SMART users have to go and record a sound elsewhere and then attach it. Promethean users can record within Inspire but again you have then attach what you’ve recorded to an object. In Easiteach Next Generation all you do is right click and select “record sound”. As long as you’re mic is working it automatically records the sound you want to use and adds it to the item. All you have to do next is use the “play mode” arrow (the one we like to refer to as the magic wand) to get the sound to play. That is so easy! Very good. Languages teachers (amongst others) will love that.
You’ll also notice another addition to the right click (or accelerator menu). It’s called X-ray vision. This looks a lot like what we might recognise as “Magic Ink” but, in my opinion, it’s much easier to use and actually has a few extra features up its sleeve that I have to admit I couldn’t recreate in Activ Inspire. In Promethean’s Activ Inspire, Magic Ink only works with objects on the top layer; Next Gen’s X-ray vision gives you the option of working on 3 different layers.
You can add your objects and then using the accelerator menu (right click) and choosing X-ray vision you choose which layer the x-ray machine will see the object. This means that when you move the spy glass around the students can toggle through the different layers discovering extra things as they go. This would be fantastic for differentiating extension tasks – perhaps each layer goes higher and higher up Blooms’ Taxonomy? Or further and further into the past as we explore a scene from history. I like this VERY much! I can’t wait to experiment with it more.
You’ll also notice that there’s a new set of options in the effects menu bar. FX+. As you can see here some of the functionality that used to be in the old Easiteach has returned plus a few extras. The follow a line reminds me of the ‘restrictor’ option of “follow a path” in Inspire and would be great for making it look like the computer was choosing who goes into which group 😉 The other tools would be very useful in primary maths.
The mathematicians amongst you will also love the new “grid” view mode. This allows you to add a visible grid to the page. The grid’s size is editable and will be really useful for graph plotting, geometry, art lessons and many more applications!
Just head to the “E” menu and then “view modes”. You’ll see the Grid option available and you can turn it on and off with a click. The cog next to it will allow you to change the grid size and settings.
Even more features:
And… if you thought that the features above were quite enough for one release… there’s more!
- You can now import your powerpoints into Easiteach.
- You can add hyperlinks to websites on to text as well as images
- The fill tool (the bucket) will now fill shapes that you’ve drawn free hand with the pen tool
- There are more settings for the text-to-speech engine ( you can control the speed and volume it works with
- Converter – converts imperial measurements into metric
- Graphing Calculator – plots graphs based on formulae and equations
- Sharkbait – Like Hangman
- Tell the Time Clock – Primary school based to help little ones tell the time