Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Promethean Board and Activstudio Have Applications for AT

We have several districts that have purchased Promethean Boards, a computerized whiteboard, and our instructional technology team have been holding trainings and getting teachers familiar with the cool tricks that the board and the software packages can do.
Last year I had set up a trial with Kurzweil 3ooo and the teacher and the CP student loved it. It had been the first time he had been able to turn in his worksheets with the rest of the class. They had used the K3000 program and a scanner and converted his wprksheets. Then he used the Click-n-Type keyboard to enter his answers in the fields set up on the e worksheet. Then they printed the worksheet and handed it in.
The trial was a success but the specific program wasn't written in the IEP. The school wanted to trial some other methods to get the student access to his worksheets and assignments. Enter the Promethean Board and its software.
The sped teacher told me the other day that she wanted to try the Activstudio software with this student to access his paper assignments. I asked her what it did. She said you could scan any papers you want to put up on the Promethean Board and enter the answers on the board - or from a computer. Since they already had the software, they wanted to see if it would give similar access for keyboarding in the answer fields.
While visiting with the instructional technology folks in our region I asked about Activstudio. They said similar things also. I haven't gotten to assess this feature yet because I haven't had a chance to use it with a scanner, but it sounds like a great tool. Of course there won't be all the K3000 bells and whistles like the text to speech, study tools, etc. but since the school has it, why not give it a try. There are some nice applications for the low visionl earner with it. We used it last year with Intellitools Classroom Suite 4 to give a CVI student a chance to see things big and manipulate them. He loved it.
I did a little research and found a thread on Promethean Planet, a discussion thread for sharing ideas on the Promethean Board. Under the topic scanning and importing, Bill Lohman, an area rep for the company shared the following:

"When you import a scanned image and it is this:right click on the "fit" on the menu...choose the selection you want. I usually choose "best fit to page"...This will resize the image. I then lock it to the background so that the students can then annotate over it without accidentally selecting it. I have not had any problems with slowing my flipcharts down at this point. I could see issues if you do not have sufficient RAM and harddrive space though. I have used flipcharts with several large images (my latest postcard to Hilary) with no significant performance issues, its just 6 mb. Another option would be to scan the worksheet with a decent OCR program and scan it into text.. "

Bill Lohman
Promethean Inc.
Gulf States Area Manager

I am going to observe how it goes , spend some time learning the software and give you feedback. If any of you use this tool already and have used this feature, maybe you can give us your impressions.

All the best to you!


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Beth Poss said...

Hi Lon--I meet you in your session at CTG yesterday.
We have Promethean Boards in our school district and I have been using ActivStudio with students for the last few months. One problem that I have found with it as a writing tool is that there is no spell check available within the software! Other issues for me with my students is that there are very few keyboard shortcuts to set up switch access with--not even to turn the page/go to next page in the flip chart. While there are lots of other great features--I love using the Reveal tool to decrease visual distractions, it is not a very Universally Designed tool in many ways.

Lon said...

Thanks for the input. This gives me a jump start on my evaluation. It will be interesting to see how this tool helps the student that will be trying it.
Great information...

G Morton said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've been waiting for Promethean to start reviewing their software from an A/T perspective. I know they are previewing a new product ("activsoftware inspire") that is scheduled for launch in Dec or Jan. Mr. Lohman please pass this on to Promethean - the software is EVERYTHING for SNT.