Monday, November 3, 2008

Bugs with ActivStudio

I am very lucky to have a Smartboard from SmartTech in my classroom. It is absolutely wonderful. I have been using Notebook software from SmartTech to run the board. The Minneapolis district is moving towards K-8 schools using Promethean boards and Activstudio software.

Activstudio, in my opinion, is not as well thought out as Notebook. In all fairness, I did use Activstudio for 2 weeks before switching back to Notebook. Here are some of my impressions:

Needs Improvement:
  • Slides can't be reordered from the slide drawer. There is a separate screen that you need to switch to. In addition, it asks you to confirm your changes everytime you move something. In Notebook, this is done on the main screen.
  • Same thing for deleting slides.
  • The only slides that you can link to are next and previous. In Notebook, you can link to any page in the file. This is important for interactive storybooks and hiding slides that you may not get to.
  • Activstudio doesn't allow pasting of the last thing copied. It gives you a list of things that you may want to paste.
  • My copy of Activstudio constantly switches back to full screen. I constantly want it smaller and when I change things, it switches back to full screen. This is very annoying when working with multiple applications.
  • This one might just be me, but I've had several issues with moving things around. I feel that there are too many little boxes, arrows and other things to grab onto.
  • The floating tools are always in the way. There doesn't seem to be a
    way to not work in Activstudio and not see the floating tools. Trying
    to close them closes Activstudio. In Notebook, it is a separate
    application that you can close. Nice feature.
Well done:
  • Activstudio has a built in browser. Very nice to be able to insert a link and not open another application.
  • Lots of color options and tools. It's a bit tedious to add tools where you want them but there are lots of tools to choose from. This a definite advantage over Notebook.
That's what I know. We've convinced our district leaders to not change to Promethean boards during the school year. We don't want to add training meetings or disturb learning environments. My next hope is that Promethean fixes somethings or we can be allowed to be keep our Smartboards.

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