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Smart Table Activity Toolkit – Hot Spotting!
April 29th, 2009 by H-Blog

So on Thursday I had a crack at constructing my first Smart Table activities using the Smart Table Toolkit, which comes included with the Table (you can download it from here). Obviously, things never run too smoothly, so because the verson of Windows run in the school was not compatible with the Toolkit (you need XP or Vista to be able to install it) I had to take in my laptop, which of course is non-networkable in school. This meant a lot of memory stick back-and-forth action  between a school desktop sans Toolkit but with server access and my laptop with the Toolkit but without the server access!!!

Loading up the toolkit, you are presented with the home screen, as seen below:

 

 

The Toolkit Home Page

The Toolkit Home Page

 

 

Whilst I created a number of activities, all based on our PE activities, for just now I am going to concentrate on the Hot Spots activity.

For what it’s worth, I think the Hot Spots tool has great potential; in fact, it is an approach I have been hoping would be incorporated into SMART Notebook for a while now. Essentially, what it does is allow you to designate a ‘correct’ position for an object, the pupil’s task being to find the correct position for the object. Since using Jigworks, I have been thinking that such a tool would have great potential in Notebook and could be utilised in a number of different ways, and despite its limitations, the SMART Table version has only increased my belief.

Using a downloadable Shapes activity from the Smart site as an example, here is how you build the activity:

1 – Create your background

2 – Create labels for the objects in their ‘start’ positions

 

Starting Positions

Starting Positions

 

 

 

3 – Select ‘Finshing Position’ and drag the labels to their correct positions. When the activity is run, ‘hot spots’ will appear on the background image, and you drag the labels to them. If the correct label is dragged to the correct hotspot it will lock into place and change colour.

 

 

Finishing Positions

Finishing Positions

 

 

Creating the Hot Spots activity was fairly straightforward, once a problem with file types had been sorted (my version of the Toolkit would not recognise jpegs so I had to convert to gifs, although a colleague says they can use jpegs with no problems). The activity is a useful and rewarding one, and the pupils find it an easy task to pick up with minimal guidance and will offer each other assistance.

So why do I mention ‘limitations’? Simply put, most of them are concerned with editability.

1 – While Notebook pages can be exported as images and then brought into the Toolkit, the ability to drag and drop or cut and paste from Notebook would be an excellent additon. 

2 – Being able to select the exact point for a Hot Spot, and perhaps the position the label would ‘drop into’ would allow for a bit more precision when creating an activity.

3 – Being able to create ‘batches’ of Hot Spots would allow for some versatility in activities created. For example, a picture could have a number of objects on it and you had to label them ‘animal’ ‘vegetable’ or ‘mineral’ – the stup just now would not allow for such an activity to be created.

4 – From what I can gather, the ability to fix labels and have pictures dragged to Hot Spots is not available, which again would open up a range of activities.

5 – Being able to insert a number of pictures to create a background (without having to create a background in imaging software/Notebook first) would be a great advantage.

6 – For some of our pupils, matching pictures, sounds or colours might be more appropriate than using words. Improved editability in this regards would be most welcome.

7 – In a similar vein, allowing the choice of an outline for each object to be dropped ‘into’ would allow for the same activity to be tailored to pupils at differeing levels of ability.

 

I’m sure I had a number of other thoughts about this activity, but I’m dashed if I can remember any of them just now. And although it may seem like loads of moaning, I must re-iterate that my suggestions are mostly to do with improving editability and versatility and that I remain convinced by the value of the activity itself. Indeed, I am hopeful that SMART will see fit to incorporate it into Notebook as well as Table software.


One Response  
  • Tom writes:
    May 2nd, 200914:11at

    Hi Iain – thanks for the good coverage of your thoughts about Hot Spots. I had the same problem with the image file formats for the background. It had issues with jpeg file extensions, when I changed these to jpg it was OK. A bit fiddly and too fussy to be practical really.

    I thought I would just reply with some of my own comments about the issues you raised.

    1) I find this an issue too – in the multiple choice activity you can paste images and in the Media app. Should be possible really here as it makes activity creation that much simpler.

    2) Again totally agree – the final version on the table shows the actual spots, you have no real sense of where these are. Too much guess work involved, it is especially important when labelling intricate diagrams etc.

    3) Love the idea of batch creation and all you need to do is change background and locate final positions. You could almost do with the ability to create a group of labels and add the group.

    4) Dragging the pictures on is possible. What you need to do is to set a background image with the text labels on it. You then add a picture instead of a label – which again would be easier if you could paste an object rather then uploading a saved image file. But it does seem possible.

    7) Widening the landing zone for the label – or even being able to edit the size of this, and so differentiating according to fine motor skills would be ideal.

    Thanks for the comments on my own blog posts – hope you get a chance for some video of yours as I would love to see it in action.


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